Published in Proceedings of the Bushfire 2006 Research Conference, January 1, 2006, pages 1-8. Copyright © 2006 by the author.
This paper discusses varying management strategies in wildland-urban interface communities of southern California in terms of their effects on potential fire behavior and residual environmental impacts. A century of fire exclusion policies there and throughout the United States has led to immense fuel loading and declining ecosystem health, which coupled with a burgeoning population relocating to wildland areas, has annually heightened the threat of devastating wildfires. Successful management strategies must consider elements of suppression needs, community education, construction and development standards, and vegetation manipulation, each of which will vary dependant on the ecosystem and socioeconomic conditions of the area considered.
Fire and fuels management in the wildland-urban interface is a complex array of biophysical and sociopolitical factors. Regularly, the fire suppression community seeks to largely eliminate fuels in interface communities with minimal regard to the environmental benefits that vegetation provides such as carbon sequestration, stormwater absorption, energy conservation, wildlife habitat, and others. Thus, to best insure sustainable communities in the wildland-urban interface, stakeholders from a diversity of disciplines and worldviews must collaborate to develop a management plan for a given area that minimizes fire risk while simultaneously maximizing the benefits that distinct vegetation communities provide. It is hoped that the successes and lessons learned in California can be applied to other similar regions of the world.
Environmental Sciences | Natural Resources Management and Policy