Current and future wildfire risk in the peri-urban Acadian Forest Region
Whitman, Ellen M.
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The majority of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and the peri-urban has grown simultaneously, creating new Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) where development comes into contact – and intermingles with – wildlands. WUI has an elevated wildfire risk. This study examines current and future wildfire risk in the Acadian Forest Region, and consists of two papers. The first manuscript of this thesis describes a model to delineate WUI at a site-scale for municipal risk management, using fire behaviour modelling. The second manuscript uses climate and fire behaviour modelling, projecting an increase in fire weather severity in the Acadian Forest Region under climate change, indicating increased future fire susceptibility. Shifts in tree species composition may offset this risk, as tree species become a negative fire risk driver. The relative importance of fire risk drivers was solicited from experts to assess the net impact on fire risk. Together these papers identify an increasing fire risk in the region under climate change, depending on site-level tree species composition dynamics, and an opportunity for municipal management of fire risk. Delineation of WUI and risk management are necessary, given increasing future fire risk and uncertainty under climate change.