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Conflict, narratives, and forest fires in eastern Turkey : a quantitative perspective with remote sensing and GIS

Shahpurwala, Aiman LU (2019) In Lund University GEM thesis series NGEM01 20191
Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
Abstract
Within Turkey, claims of an increasing number of forest fires ignited by the Turkish military to ‘strategically degrade the environment’ broke out after the Turkish-Kurdish peace process ended in 2015. These claims are built on little evidence, and fire occurrences are not well documented. Yet, the issue has gained attention through the news and social media in recent years (Nurcan Baysal 2018; Stockholm Center for Freedom 2018). The lack of objective, scientific, data presents a need for a quantitative assessment of these fires in the context of conflict and political instability. Modern techniques in remote sensing and GIS can be used to retrospectively account for these fires.
The research uses a multi-temporal/ multi-scale approach... (More)
Within Turkey, claims of an increasing number of forest fires ignited by the Turkish military to ‘strategically degrade the environment’ broke out after the Turkish-Kurdish peace process ended in 2015. These claims are built on little evidence, and fire occurrences are not well documented. Yet, the issue has gained attention through the news and social media in recent years (Nurcan Baysal 2018; Stockholm Center for Freedom 2018). The lack of objective, scientific, data presents a need for a quantitative assessment of these fires in the context of conflict and political instability. Modern techniques in remote sensing and GIS can be used to retrospectively account for these fires.
The research uses a multi-temporal/ multi-scale approach provided in three parts, including: 1) the characterization of alleged fires (from 2016 to 2018) at a local scale, 2) assessment and validation of 9 years of fire data on the provincial scale and, 3) statistical analysis and hypothesis testing (i.e., Spearman Rank Correlation Test) for the association between 15 years of fire and conflict data at the national/provincial scale. Parts one and two focus on Tunceli Province at the local and provincial scale, and part three focuses on analyzing fire accounts from Diyarbakir, Hakkari, and Tunceli provinces against Turkey’s national conflict data.
In part one, a relativized burn ratio (i.e., RBR) was calculated to determine fire severity, and 77% of the burned area identified as low severity burns (USGS 2004). In part two, trends showed increases in fires and burned area after the year 2015, and the fire product validation found an overall map accuracy of > 90%. Part three determined a statistically significant association between the conflict and fire data in all three provinces. Results from these experiments demonstrate the capabilities and usefulness of modern techniques in remote sensing for quantitative assessments of fire patterns within the context of conflict and political instability. Furthermore, the remote sensing data partially supports local claims that the fires are occurring and have increased after the year 2015. (Less)
Popular Abstract
Within Turkey, claims of an increasing number of forest fires ignited by the Turkish military to ‘strategically degrade the environment’ broke out after the Turkish-Kurdish peace process ended in 2015. These claims are built on little evidence, and fire occurrences are not well documented. Yet, the issue has gained attention through the news and social media in recent years. The lack of objective, scientific, data presents a need for a quantitative assessment of these fires in the context of conflict and political instability. Modern techniques in remote sensing and GIS can be used to retrospectively account for these fires.
This MSc thesis project aims to explore the ‘usefulness’ or accuracy of techniques in remote sensing and GIS to... (More)
Within Turkey, claims of an increasing number of forest fires ignited by the Turkish military to ‘strategically degrade the environment’ broke out after the Turkish-Kurdish peace process ended in 2015. These claims are built on little evidence, and fire occurrences are not well documented. Yet, the issue has gained attention through the news and social media in recent years. The lack of objective, scientific, data presents a need for a quantitative assessment of these fires in the context of conflict and political instability. Modern techniques in remote sensing and GIS can be used to retrospectively account for these fires.
This MSc thesis project aims to explore the ‘usefulness’ or accuracy of techniques in remote sensing and GIS to characterize and account for fires within Turkey remotely, as well as to assess the link between political instability and fires. The fire and conflict data are assessed and analyzed with respect to the ongoing narratives and the more recent events of the PKK-Turkish War from the early 2000s to 2018. The research is conducted using a mutli-temporal/multi-scale approach involving quantitative analysis to address the aim.
The thesis shows how modern techniques in remote sensing can be used in the characterization of fires retrospectively. The results of the research determine that remote sensing fire products are useful for detecting fires within Turkey at a high accuracy (i.e., > 90% overall accuracy). This objective, scientific data, contributes to quantitative statistical assessments of these case studies to better understand the link between political instability and fires. The statistical assessments determined an association between the fire and conflict data, suggesting there is a significant relationship between number of fires in conflict zones and political instability in Turkey. Furthermore, while the cause of the fires is still unknown, the remote sensing data partially supports the local people’s claims that forest fires are occurring in Tunceli Province and have increased after the year 2015. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Shahpurwala, Aiman LU
supervisor
organization
course
NGEM01 20191
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
geography, burned area, Turkey, warfare ecology, spatial analysis, GEM
publication/series
Lund University GEM thesis series
report number
27
language
English
id
8989478
date added to LUP
2019-07-02 09:12:03
date last changed
2019-12-31 03:39:03
@misc{8989478,
  abstract     = {Within Turkey, claims of an increasing number of forest fires ignited by the Turkish military to ‘strategically degrade the environment’ broke out after the Turkish-Kurdish peace process ended in 2015. These claims are built on little evidence, and fire occurrences are not well documented. Yet, the issue has gained attention through the news and social media in recent years (Nurcan Baysal 2018; Stockholm Center for Freedom 2018). The lack of objective, scientific, data presents a need for a quantitative assessment of these fires in the context of conflict and political instability. Modern techniques in remote sensing and GIS can be used to retrospectively account for these fires.
The research uses a multi-temporal/ multi-scale approach provided in three parts, including: 1) the characterization of alleged fires (from 2016 to 2018) at a local scale, 2) assessment and validation of 9 years of fire data on the provincial scale and, 3) statistical analysis and hypothesis testing (i.e., Spearman Rank Correlation Test) for the association between 15 years of fire and conflict data at the national/provincial scale. Parts one and two focus on Tunceli Province at the local and provincial scale, and part three focuses on analyzing fire accounts from Diyarbakir, Hakkari, and Tunceli provinces against Turkey’s national conflict data.
In part one, a relativized burn ratio (i.e., RBR) was calculated to determine fire severity, and 77% of the burned area identified as low severity burns (USGS 2004). In part two, trends showed increases in fires and burned area after the year 2015, and the fire product validation found an overall map accuracy of > 90%. Part three determined a statistically significant association between the conflict and fire data in all three provinces. Results from these experiments demonstrate the capabilities and usefulness of modern techniques in remote sensing for quantitative assessments of fire patterns within the context of conflict and political instability. Furthermore, the remote sensing data partially supports local claims that the fires are occurring and have increased after the year 2015.},
  author       = {Shahpurwala, Aiman},
  keyword      = {geography,burned area,Turkey,warfare ecology,spatial analysis,GEM},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Lund University GEM thesis series},
  title        = {Conflict, narratives, and forest fires in eastern Turkey : a quantitative perspective with remote sensing and GIS},
  year         = {2019},
}