3 years ago

Mapping wildfire vulnerability in Mediterranean Europe. Testing a stepwise approach for operational purposes

Vulnerability assessment is a vital component of wildfire management. This research focused on the development of a framework to measure and map vulnerability levels in several areas within Mediterranean Europe, where wildfires are a major concern. The framework followed a stepwise approach to evaluate its main components, expressed by exposure, sensitivity and coping capacity. Data on population density, fuel types, protected areas location, roads infrastructure and surveillance activities, among others, were integrated to create composite indices, representing each component and articulated in multiple dimensions. Maps were created for several test areas, in northwest Portugal, southwest Sardinia in Italy and northeast Corsica in France, with the contribution of local participants from civil protection institutions and forest services. Results showed the influence of fuel sensitivity levels, population distribution and protected areas coverage for the overall vulnerability classes. Reasonable levels of accuracy were found on the maps provided through the validation procedure, with an overall match above 72% for the several sites. The systematic and flexible approach applied allowed for adjustments to local circumstances with regards to data availability and fire management procedures, without compromising its consistency and with substantial operational capabilities. The results obtained and the positive feedback of end-users encourage its further application, as a means to improve wildfire management strategies at multiple levels with the latest scientific outputs.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0301479717309817

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