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Forests 2016, 7(7), 149; doi:10.3390/f7070149

Cost-Effectiveness of Fuel Removals in Mediterranean Wildland-Urban Interfaces Threatened by Wildfires

1
Department of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, University of Bari “A. Moro”, Via Amendola 165/A, Bari 70126, Italy
2
Department of Agriculture, University of Sassari, Via Cristoforo Colombo 1, Nuoro 08100, Italy
3
CGCEO, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48823, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Timothy A. Martin
Received: 27 April 2016 / Revised: 14 July 2016 / Accepted: 16 July 2016 / Published: 20 July 2016
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Abstract

One of the most important environmental issues in Europe is the expansion of wildland-urban interfaces (WUIs) and how this trend may affect the occurrence of wildfires. Land use changes, the abandonment of farmland, and reduced grazing has led to an increase in forested areas with an accumulation and continuity of surface fuels available for combustion. Policies based exclusively on extensive fire suppression have become ineffective in different parts of Europe. To reduce the threat of damaging and costly wildfires, European countries must develop integrated fuel management programs. This approach has proven to be one of the most cost-effective for preventing wildfires and reducing economic loss. To this end, we have conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis to estimate how much fuel must be treated to determine fuel load removals with the lowest cost per hectare of unaffected WUIs threatened by wildfires in southern Italy (Apulia region). The analysis was carried out in three stages: (i) simulation of fire behavior in different fuel load reduction and wind direction scenarios; (ii) estimation of WUIs affected by wildfires within the study landscape; and (iii) the application of a cost-effectiveness ratio. Our results highlight the need to provide a method to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of fuel removal given the increasing number and extent of WUIs in the Mediterranean landscape of Europe. Optimizing the cost-effectiveness analysis of fuel removals offers the basis for appropriately assessing wildfire prevention and budgeting financial resources. Further, this method may be readily applied toward allocating any type of intervention in landscape management. View Full-Text
Keywords: wildfires; wildland-urban interfaces; fuel treatment effectiveness; fuel management; fireline intensity; Mediterranean landscape wildfires; wildland-urban interfaces; fuel treatment effectiveness; fuel management; fireline intensity; Mediterranean landscape
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Elia, M.; Lovreglio, R.; Ranieri, N.A.; Sanesi, G.; Lafortezza, R. Cost-Effectiveness of Fuel Removals in Mediterranean Wildland-Urban Interfaces Threatened by Wildfires. Forests 2016, 7, 149.

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