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Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire

Spatial distribution of ignitions in Mediterranean periurban and rural areas: the case of Catalonia

Anna Badia-Perpinyà A B and Montserrat Pallares-Barbera A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Geography, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

B Corresponding author. Email:

International Journal of Wildland Fire 15(2) 187-196
Submitted: 3 February 2004  Accepted: 30 January 2006   Published: 31 May 2006


Fire prevention requires a specific treatment subject to the innate characteristics of a territory and to the social interaction that takes place there. The present article deals with very different fire behaviors in two neighboring environments, in which unequal ignitory patterns have been identified. The analyzed environments constitute two prototypes of Mediterranean landscape in the region of Catalonia (Spain). The periurban-fire pattern is identified with the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona. The rural-fire pattern is observed in the county of Bages, with a far more sparse population structure. Sample observations were drawn from databases containing a compilation of ignitions occurring in these two environments during the period from 1987 to 1998. Analysis shows that the distribution of ignitions in the more urban areas is much more concentrated, whereas ignitions in rural areas are far more dispersed, and therefore more difficult to detect. The importance of the present article lies in the identification of the factors determining the patterns of development of ignitions in two very different territories, affected by diverse external pressures. Finally, guidelines for preventive policies adapted to these situations are given, taking into account the specific and differentiated characteristics relevant to each case.

Additional keywords: chi-square test; geographic information systems; human and territorial factors; Mediterranean forest areas; wildland–urban interface.


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1 Understood as the probability that a fire is produced successfully (Merril and Alexander 1987).

2 Understood here as the probability that a fire will be produced, depending on causative agents.

3 Local institution of the Catalan Government.

4 Determined in the same way as with the MAB, whereby the number of fires takes into account the municipality of origin, but the burnt surface area only takes into account that which actually affects the municipality.

5 Insolation is taken from DEM, following standard procedure calculation, which is the mean for June, July, August, and September of each year.

6 The use of this method is always controversial because of the opacity in the way in which the results are calculated.