A Focus Group Study of Factors that Promote and Constrain the Use of Satellite-derived Fire Products by Resource Managers in Southern Africa

Document Type


Publication Date



MODIS, Fire, Utility, Validation


Semi-structured focus group interviews were employed to examine factors that affect the likelihood that resource managers in southern Africa will use information on vegetation fires provided by two satellite-derived products: an active fire product and a burned area product. The two products are updated regularly and aim to deliver the state-of-the-art in the global monitoring of fires from satellite remote-sensing. Both products are derived from data transmitted by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors carried onboard NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites. The active fire product can be accessed for free via the internet and on media by users working anywhere in the world; the burned area product will be accessible in a similar manner in 2006. The MODIS fire products provide systematic, near-global coverage and are freely available; as such, they give resource managers new opportunities to obtain or supplement information they need to manage vegetation fires effectively. However, the availability of these products does not mean that resource managers will use them, and many other factors are involved. To understand factors that affect whether southern African resource managers will use the two products, two focus groups were held with members of the Southern African Fire Network (SAFNet) in Malawi, Africa, August 2004. Analysis of the group discussions reveals a number of factors that influence whether they will use the products. The qualitative, in depth nature of the group discussions revealed 12 main factors that influence product use; not least the low international internet bandwidths for African countries outside of South Africa. Analysis of the group discussions also suggests how the uptake of MODIS fire products by resource managers in southern Africa might be enhanced by affecting specific changes to how MODIS products are packaged and delivered.

Publication Title

The Journal of Environmental Management





First Page


Last Page


DOI of Published Version