Protecting Communities from Wildfire with Progressive Land Use Planning
California’s recent pattern of building residential areas in the urban-wildland interface exposes people and property to wildfire - with deadly results. These same patterns degrade adjacent wild habitats through exposure to human influences, such as fragmentation, changes in runoff, light and chemical pollution, impacts of pets and trampling, and weedy invasions. In an increasingly destructive feedback loop, larger, more severe fires result, which then lead to further degradation of habitat from attempts to reduce flammable vegetation near communities.
CBI is partnering with The Nature Conservancy to explore community design principles to provide wildfire risk reduction benefits. The team is using GIS to compare former land use patterns to innovative design measures that include the location of irrigated greenspaces between structures and wildlands to reduce wildfire risks. Greenspaces, which can be parkland, orchards, and other irrigated land uses, can act as ember-catchers and provide strategic areas for escape from fire or for fire-fighters to stage their battles against future wildland fires.