Spatial patterns of social vulnerability in relation to wildfire risk and wildland-urban interface presence  

Dr Chas-Amil, Emilio Nogueira, Jeffrey P Prestemon, Julia M. Touza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wildfires have greater impacts on socially vulnerable communities. Identifying these vulnerable communities and enhance understanding of what influences their susceptibility to wildfires can guide the design of spatially targeted strategies in preparedness, mitigation plans, and adaptation strategies. Moreover, special attention should be given to those locations with high wildfire risk and higher social vulnerability. This paper investigates the heterogeneous spatial coincidence of social vulnerability with wildfire risk in Galicia (Spain) at the municipal level. Results show that socioeconomic status, social dependent population, and household unit characteristics are the dimensions that contribute the most to social vulnerability. In general, municipalities with the highest proportion of their area under the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) have low social vulnerability. In fact, locations with high social vulnerability and high fire risk are spatially concentrated in the south and are low-density populated communities, often in remote locations and with elderly population. We also mapped few exceptions where we detected high WUI presence in hotspot areas. Our findings can serve local authorities as a basis for wildfire planning that accounts for the spatial distribution of the most vulnerable communities and for the development of programs that tackle the determinants of the socially vulnerability inequalities across the territory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104577
Number of pages9
JournalLandscape and urban planning
Early online date16 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Author(s).


  • social vulnerability
  • Wildfires
  • Wildland-urban interface

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