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Categorizing the Social Context of the Wildland Urban Interface: Adaptive Capacity for Wildfire and Community “Archetypes”

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Understanding the local context that shapes collective response to wildfire risk continues to be a challenge for scientists and policymakers. This study utilizes and expands on a conceptual approach for understanding adaptive capacity to wildfire in a comparison of 18 past case studies. The intent is to determine whether comparison of local social context and community characteristics across cases can identify community “archetypes” that approach wildfire planning and mitigation in consistently different ways. Identification of community archetypes serves as a potential strategy for collaborating with diverse populations at risk from wildfire and designing tailored messages related to wildfire risk mitigation. Our analysis uncovered four consistent community archetypes that differ in terms of the local social context and community characteristics that continue to influence response to wildfire risk. Differences among community archetypes include local communication networks, reasons for place attachment or community identity, distrust of government, and actions undertaken to address issues of forest health and esthetics. Results indicate that the methodological approach advanced in this study can be used to draw more consistent lessons across case studies and provide the means to test different communication strategies among archetypes.
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Keywords: adaptive capacity; hazards; social diversity; wildland fire; wildland urban interface

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2015-04-12

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.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 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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