Wildfires in the wildland-urban interface in Catalonia: Vulnerability analysis based on land use and land cover change

Anna Badia, Montserrat Pallares-Barbera, Natàlia Valldeperas, Meritxell Gisbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

13 Citations (Scopus)


© 2019 Elsevier B.V. The crisis in traditional forest and farming activities that began in the second half of the 20th century has given way to a new territorial structure, characterised by greater forest density and an acceleration of urban sprawl, which has affected the impact of fires on the territory and especially on the inhabitants. The increased vulnerability of homes located at the wildland-urban interface (WUI) and the differences in the intensity of fire impact makes it necessary to identify different typologies of WUI zones. Characterization of WUI typologies was based on four forest fires with distinct characteristics, selected from fires that occurred in Catalonia in 2003 and 2012. Based on the different landscape units that have been studied and the dynamics of the changes that have occurred in the study area over the past 15 years, together with the occurrence of fires during this period, identified three major WUI zone typologies: a) metropolitan, b) agroforest and c) mountain agrosilvopastoral. The results, based on Kappa index and Rate of Change, show significant changes in Land Use and Land Cover between 2003 and 2009 in each study area, but the economic and social context in each region generated different territorial dynamics for each typology. This diagnosis contributes to knowledge that expands the available planning and management tools to mitigate the effects of wildfires.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-196
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2019


  • Kappa index
  • Landscape
  • Rate of change
  • Wildfire prevention

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