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Coupling the biophysical and social dimensions of wildfire risk to improve wildfire mitigation planning

Formally Refereed
Authors: Alan A. Ager, Jeffrey D. Kline, A. Paige Fisher
Year: 2015
Type: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
Source: Risk Analysis 35(8): 1393-1406.


We describe recent advances in biophysical and social aspects of risk and their potential combined contribution to improve mitigation planning on fire-prone landscapes. The methods and tools provide an improved method for defining the spatial extent of wildfire risk to communities compared to current planning processes. They also propose an expanded role for social science to improve understanding of community-wide risk perceptions and to predict property owners’ capacities and willingness to mitigate risk by treating hazardous fuels and reducing the susceptibility of dwellings. In particular, we identify spatial scale mismatches in wildfire mitigation planning and their potential adverse impact on risk mitigation goals. Studies in other fire-prone regions suggest that these scale mismatches are widespread and contribute to continued wildfire dwelling losses. We discuss how risk perceptions and behavior contribute to scale mismatches and how they can be minimized through integrated analyses of landscape wildfire transmission and social factors that describe the potential for collaboration among landowners and land management agencies. These concepts are then used to outline an integrated socioecological planning framework to identify optimal strategies for local community risk mitigation and improve landscape-scale prioritization of fuel management investments by government entities.


Community wildfire protection, socioecological planning, wildfire risk mitigation


Ager, Alan A.; Kline, Jeffrey D.; Fisher, A. Paige. 2015. Coupling the biophysical and social dimensions of wildfire risk to improve wildfire mitigation planning. Risk Analysis. 35(8): 1393-1406.