Evidence-based mapping of the wildland-urban interface to better identify human communities threatened by wildfires

Miranda, Alejandro; Carrasco, Jaime; Gonzalez, Mauro; Pais, Cristobal; Lara, Antonio; Altamirano, Adison; Weintraub, Andres; Syphard, Alexandra D.


The wildland-urban interface (WUI) is the spatial manifestation of human communities coupled with vegetated ecosystems. Spatial delineation of the WUI is important for wildfire policy and management, but is typically defined according to spatial relationships between housing development and wildland vegetation without explicit consideration of fire risk. A fire risk-based definition of WUI can enable a better distribution of management investment so as to maximize social return. We present a novel methodological approach to delineate the WUI based on a fire risk assessment. The approach establishes a geographical framework to model fire risk via machine learning and generate multi-scale, variable-specific spatial thresholds for translating fire probabilities into mapped output. To determine whether fire-based WUI mapping better captures the spatial congruence of houses and wildfires than conventional methods, we compared national and subnational fire-based WUI maps for Chile to WUI maps generated only with housing and vegetation thresholds. The two mapping approaches exhibited broadly similar spatial patterns, the WUI definitions covering almost the same area and containing similar proportions of the housing units in the area under study (17.1% vs. 17.9%), but the fire-based WUI accounted for 13.8% more spatial congruence of fires and people (47.1% vs. 33.2% of ignitions). Substantial regional variability was found in fire risk drivers and the corresponding spatial mapping thresholds, suggesting there are benefits to developing different WUI maps for different scales of application. We conclude that a dynamic, multi-scale, fire-based WUI mapping approach should provide more targeted and effective support for decision making than conventional approaches.

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Título según WOS: ID WOS:000567919300001 Not found in local WOS DB
Volumen: 15
Número: 9
Fecha de publicación: 2020


Notas: ISI