LiDAR technology: a municipality tool to manage forest fire vulnerability in the wildland urban interface

By Pau Costa Foundation on

Session: Fire prevention and preparedness

Presenter: Anna Badia (Geografia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Contact email:

The research group RISCUCS (Areas of risk generated by land use and land cover change: challenges and opportunities) is founded by PROYECTOS DE I+D+I, del Programa Estatal de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación orientada a los Retos de la Sociedad (CSO2015-65257-R)

The approach of this project arises from the need to provide an answer to some of the risks posed by land use and land cover change (LULCC). The LULCC are a phenomenon that has aroused great interest in the scientific community, especially because the management and planning that seeks to avoid or solve the impacts on the environment requires an analysis of the evolution of changes in land use and land cover landscapes structure. The second half of the twentieth century was the turning point in the study of LULCC. For centuries humans modified the landscape, changing land cover in accordance with the priorities of each reality. Since the mid-twentieth century, these changes accelerated with consequences that directly affect the structure and dynamics of the territory and were unthinkable just a few decades ago. One of the most interesting changes is the increase of urbanized area and the abandonment of agricultural practices, which consequently implies the loss of arable land and increase of forest.

The risks associated with these changes are of a different nature: rural depopulation, forest fires, loss of agricultural land, loss of biodiversity, social exclusion, fragmentation of the territory, dependence on private vehicles. The analysis of these changes should be part of territorial planning studies. The project approaches one of the main challenges of the LULCC: the risks associated with urban sprawl.


ABSTRACT: LiDAR technology has become a tool that obtains high resolution spatial data, which is very effective in forest planning and management studies. The objective of the current project is to apply LiDAR technology (Light Detection and Ranging or Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging) in order to map fuel continuity in wildland urban interface (WUI) and prevent forest fires consequences in these areas. Actually, proactive actions, not reactive, help to improve the field of fire prevention. The combination of the different obtained layers, height of the forest, crown density, fuel size, continuity, vertical and horizontal layout of fuel and finally the underbrush fire load allow institutions to prioritize the areas of intervention and to establish the appropriate requirements for the owners. A municipality in the Metropolitan Region of Barcelona, Matadepera, was selected to explore how LiDAR technology has great possibilities regarding the planning and management of forest fires. In this municipality, both WUI and a protected natural space, which is a frequented place, can be found. The resulting map of the cadastral parcels shows a hierarchical classes of a need prioritization of intervention. Sometimes the classification of LiDAR points is not exactly precise and it is therefore necessary to complement the interpretation with field work.

Login or register to download this file
12-logo_DdG_UAB - Anna Badia Perpinyà