Forest ThreatNet

Volume 10, Issue 4 - September/October 2016

Western Threat Center Highlight: New Framework Can Help Guide Wildfire Vulnerability Assessments

Idealized_vulnerability_assessment_framework.jpgAccurately measuring and predicting wildfire occurrence and impacts to ecosystem goods and services is essential for understanding vulnerability and developing effective land management plans. A new framework, recently published in Current Forestry Reports, can help guide efforts to assess wildfire vulnerability. Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center ecologist Nicole Vaillant is the lead author of the framework, which synthesizes current knowledge and literature relating to landscape vulnerability to wildfire. In the framework, the authors broadly define vulnerability within the context of wildfire by three primary components: exposure -- the effects of wildfire on ecosystem goods and services, sensitivity -- the effects of wildfire on the ecosystem during and immediately after exposure and whether those effects ultimately impaired production of ecosystem goods and services, and resilience -- the ecosystem's ability to sustain production of goods and services linked to indirect fire effects and recovery after the wildfire has occurred. The authors also review retrospective assessments of wildfire vulnerability, the data developed and utilized to complete these assessments, and the modeling efforts that allow for predictive and probabilistic assessment of future vulnerability.

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Pictured: Characterization of a landscape's vulnerability to wildfire requires an assessment of exposure, sensitivity, and resilience. A recently published framework, illustrated in this image, can help guide efforts to assess wildfire vulnerability. Click to enlarge.

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