Spatial patterns of social vulnerability in relation to wildfire risk and wildland-urban interface presence

Abstract

Wildfires have greater impacts on socially vulnerable communities. Identifying these vulnerable communities and enhancing understanding of what influences their susceptibility to wildfires can guide the design of spatially targeted strategies in preparedness, mitigation plans, and adaptation strategies. This paper investigates the heterogeneous spatial coincidence of social vulnerability and wildfire risk in Galicia (Spain) at the municipality level. Results show that socioeconomic status, rates of dependence on social programs, and household unit characteristics are factors that contribute the most to social vulnerability. In general, municipalities with the highest proportion of their area in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) have the lowest social vulnerability. Within Galicia, locations with high social vulnerability and high wildfire risk are spatially concentrated in the south and tend to be low-population density communities, often in remote locations and with relatively high percentages of elderly people. Our findings provide an empirical foundation for wildfire management planning that accounts for the spatial distribution of vulnerable communities.

  • Citation: Chas-Amil, Maria-Luisa; Nogueira-Moure, Emilio; Prestemon, Jeffrey P.; Touza, Julia. 2022. Spatial patterns of social vulnerability in relation to wildfire risk and wildland-urban interface presence. Landscape and Urban Planning. 228(2): 104577-. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2022.104577.
  • Keywords: Social vulnerability, Wildfires, Wildland-urban interface, Natural hazards, Galicia, Spain,
  • Posted Date: September 16, 2022
  • Modified Date: September 20, 2022
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