Characterization of wildland-urban interfaces for fire prevention in the province of Valencia (Spain)

J. Madrigal Olmo, J.A. Ruiz, R. Planelles, C. Hernando


Aim of study. The present study is the first attempt to characterize and map wildland-urban interfaces (WUIs) in eastern Spain (province of Valencia) and its relationship with wildfire occurrence. 

Area of study. The study area is located in eastern Spain in the province of Valencia. The area covers 246,426 ha and includes four administrative departments comprising 86 municipalities.

Material and methods. The methodology integrates housing density and vegetation aggregation for large-scale fire prevention using the WUImap ® ARC GIS tool. A PLS model was developed to relate wildfire occurrence and WUI typologies.

Main results. The results show that 21% of housing can be considered as WUIs, highlighting the high degree of fire hazard in the study area. The PLS model shows that the 4 typologies outside of WUI present lower significance than most of WUI typologies. The types of WUI most related to fire occurrence (Number of Fires and Area Burned) are Insolated and Scattered housing with Low or High vegetation aggregation. The type Insolated housing with low aggregation presents the highest significance to explain wildfire occurrence.

Research highlights: A significant relationship between wildfire occurrence the study area and WUI has been demonstrated. The obtained results verify the ability of WUImap tool in classifying large-scale administrative departments and its suitability for application to prioritize preventive actions in the Mediterranean areas

Key words: Housing density; PLS (Partial Least Squares) model; vegetation aggregation; WUImap.

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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2013222-03985