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    Author(s): Geoffrey Koch; Alan AgerJeff Kline; Paige Fischer
    Date: 2016
    Source: Science Findings 189. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.
    Publication Series: Science Findings
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (876.0 KB)


    Effectively addressing wildfire risk to communities on large multi-owner landscapes requires an understanding of the biophysical factors that influence risk, such as fuel loads, topography, and weather, and social factors such as the capacity and willingness for communities to engage in fire-mitigation activities. Biophysical and social processes often are disconnected in wildfire mitigation planning frameworks because of mismatches in scale. The different spatial and temporal scales of these processes usually are not recognized in the planning process. Forest Service scientists Alan Ager, Jeff Kline, and Paige Fischer (now with the University of Michigan) show how scale mismatches can undermine community wildfire mitigation planning, and how using a coupled analysis of biophysical and social factors can lead to more effective outcomes.

    Typically, risk assessments focus on estimates of the probability and magnitude of adverse events. The scientists describe a coupled biophysical-social systems approach that leverages biophysical and social sciences to augment and improve existing wildfire mitigation planning. It describes a new way of defining wildfire protection planning boundaries based on the scale of wildfire risk, rather than administrative and political boundaries. Communities show their strength when pulling together after a disaster; the challenge is to revise the way we approach and deal with fire risk so that communities can pull together to take preventative action before a disaster.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Koch, Geoffrey; Ager, Alan; Kline, Jeff; Fischer, Paige. 2016. Polishing the prism: improving wildfire mitigation planning by coupling landscape and social dimensions. Science Findings 189. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.


    Wildfire risk, community, mitigation, social network, fireshed.

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