Assessing And Adaptively Managing Wildfire Risk in the
Wildland-Urban Interface for Future Climate and Land Use Changes


Project Summary

Project Goals and Objectives. The primary goals of the project are to: (1) advance knowledge of how climate change, economic growth and associated residential development, and the decisions made by agents in the community of interest (i.e., land and wildland fire management agencies, homeowners, land developers/homebuilders, and community/regional planners) influence wildfire and wildfire risk in the wildland-urban interface (WUI); and (2) increase understanding of these relationships by the broader community (i.e., students, members of the public who do not actively make decisions that influence wildfires and wildfire risk, and information personnel for state- and federally-managed forests, parks, and wildlife refuges).

The research objectives of the project are to: (1) develop a coupled natural–human systems model of the complex socio–ecological interactions among climate change, economic growth, land development and policy, wildfire, and wildfire risk in the WUI, and demonstrate how the community of interest can use the model to adaptively manage wildfire risk in the WUI in response to future climate change and economic growth; (2) test several hypotheses about how future residential development and land use policy influence future wildfire risk in the WUI in the study area; and (3) create a Web–based, interactive, spatial decision support tool that facilitates application of real–time adaptive management for wildfire risk in the study area and throughout the U.S.

The educational objectives of the project are to: (1) train future practitioners and scientists in interdisciplinary modeling and analysis of a coupled natural-human system for wildfire; (2) increase the capacity of the community of interest to assess and manage future wildfire risk in the WUI; and (3) incorporate the research products in educational activities that increase broader community understanding of wildfire and wildfire risk in WUIs undergoing major changes in climate and land use.

Project Duration. The project duration is five years (October 1, 2009 to September 31, 2014).

Funding Source. The project is funded by the Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems program of the U.S. National Science Foundation (http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2007/nsf07598/nsf07598.htm).