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Protect Thy Neighbor: Investigating the Spatial Externalities of Community Wildfire Hazard Mitigation

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Abstract:

Climate change, increased wildland fuels, and residential development patterns in fire-prone areas all combine to make wildfire risk mitigation an important public policy issue. One approach to wildfire risk mitigation is to encourage homeowners to use fire-resistant building materials and to create defensible spaces around their homes. We develop a theoretical model of interdependent household wildfire risk and mathematically introduce two new concepts of the benefits accruing from hazard mitigation: direct and spillover (indirect) damage averted. We explore how firewise communities can best spend and position mitigation resources to maximize the sum of direct and spillover damage averted. Simulating wildfire behavior within a fire-prone community, our results indicate that homeowners' wildfire risk reduction actions can have significant, positive spillover effects on the wildfire risk of neighboring houses. In such cases, individual homeowners may engage in inefficient levels of wildfire risk mitigation when viewed from the community perspective. We use a simulation approach to demonstrate that wildfire risk reduction is most effective when concentrated in houses at the interface of communities and wildlands.

Keywords: fire economics; firewise; risk; wildland–urban interface

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-08-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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