The Wildland–Urban Interface (WUI) is the area where houses and wildland vegetation meet or intermingle, which causes many environmental problems. The current WUI is widespread in many regions, but it is unclear how the WUI evolved, especially in regions where both houses and forest cover have increased. Here we compared WUI change in the Polish Carpathians for 1860 and 2013 in two study areas with different land use history. Our western study area experienced gradual forest increase and housing growth over time, while the eastern study area was subject to a shock due to post-war resettlements, which triggered rapid reforestation. We found that in both study areas WUI extent increased from 1860 to 2013 (41.3 to 54.6%, and 12.2 to 33.3%, in the west and east, respectively). However the causes of WUI growth were very different. In the western study area new houses were the main cause for new WUI, while in the eastern study area forest cover increase was more important. Our results highlight that regions with similar current WUI cover have evolved very differently, and that the WUI has grown rapidly and is widespread in the Polish Carpathians.
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