WUI Economics - A Collection of Resources
Modelling the spatial prioritization of fuel treatments and their net effect on values at risk is an important area for applied work as economic damages from wildfire continue to grow. We model and demonstrate a cost-effective fuel treatment planning algorithm using two ecosystem services as benefits for which fuel treatments are prioritized. We create a surface of expected fuel treatment costs to incorporate the heterogeneity in factors affecting the revenue and costs of fuel treatments, and then prioritize treatments based on a cost-effectiveness ratio to maximize the averted loss of ecosystem services from fire. We compare treatment scenarios that employ cost-effectiveness with those that do not, and use common tools and models in a case study of the Sisters Ranger District on the Deschutes National Forest in central Oregon.
This study finds negligible cost differences between a typical home and a home constructed using wildfire-resistant materials and design features. Decades of research and post-fire assessments have provided clear evidence that building materials and design, coupled with landscaping on the property, are the most important factors influencing home survivability during a wildfire.
Almost half of the full community costs of wildfire are paid for at the local level, including homeowners, businesses, and government agencies. Many of these costs are due to long-term damages to community and environmental services, such as landscape rehabilitation, lost business and tax revenues, and property and infrastructure repairs. By comparison, our analysis suggests suppression costs comprise around nine percent of total wildfire costs. The remaining costs include short-term expenses, or those costs occurring within the first six months—and long-term damages accruing during many months and years following a wildfire. Communities at risk to wildfires can reduce wildfire impacts and associated costs through land use planning.