‘Urban fire storm’: suburban sprawl raising risk of destructive wildfires

A nature-based solution to build community resilience

THE havoc wrought by Super Typhoon “Odette” in Siargao is still being felt three weeks after the storm first made landfall. It may take months, perhaps years, before residents recover and rebuild. The disaster undoubtedly articulated the vulnerability of the Philippines, especially its coastal communities.

Several economic analyses have shown that ecosystem-based adaptation measures have higher rates of return than business-as-usual or traditional adaptation.

Climate-induced disasters have shown how a warming planet is detrimental to lives and livelihoods. Vulnerable countries have experienced these on multiple occasions. The impacts are felt and deliver grave effects to ecosystems we depend on for well-being and survival. There is a need to put in place ecosystem-based adaptation measures if we are to survive.

These measures, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, are nature-based solutions that harness biodiversity and ecosystem services to reduce vulnerability and build a community’s resilience to climate change. It reduces human vulnerabilities and enhances adaptive capacity in the context of existing or projected climate variability and changes through sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems…READ ON

‘Urban fire storm’: suburban sprawl raising risk of destructive wildfires

t was just after sunrise on New Year’s Eve when climate scientist Daniel Swain paused outside his home in Boulder county, Colorado. Snow was beginning to fall and a strong acrid smell – “like burned plastic”, Swain said – hung on the newly chilled breeze.

It’s long been clear that what’s considered “fire season” is stretching longer, covering more months of the year.

A fast-moving wildfire had torn through the area the day before, leaving devastation in its wake. Driven by winds of more than 100mph, what started as a small brush fire swiftly consumed nearly 1,000 homes within 24 hours.

While relatively small in size – just 6,000 acres – the wildfire was the most destructive in Colorado’s history, a feat that speaks to the growing danger of what Swain calls the “urban fire storm”. Areas where suburban sprawl meets landscapes primed by drought and other climate conditions to burn – known as the wildland urban interface (WUI) – are growing, posing new threats in places once considered safe from wildfire…READ ON

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