Understanding the Spatial Distribution of Forest Fires in a Growing Urban Region: Socioeconomic Indicators Tell You More


The present study analyzes the spatial distribution of 881 forest fires recorded during four recent years (2009-2012) in 59 municipalities of a Mediterranean region (Attica, Greece) characterized by high fire risk and relevant human pressure due to uneven urban expansion. The hypothesis that a defined fire profile (in terms of density, severity and land-use selectivity) on a local scale was associated to a specific set of socioeconomic and territorial variables, was tested explicitly using six fires’ indicators and eight contextual indicators under a multivariate analysis framework. Analysis identified two main dimensions for both forest fires (dimension and selectivity) and the socioeconomic context (demographic variables associated to the urban-rural gradient and average income). Fire density and forest/pastures burnt areas did not correlated to any socioeconomic variable. At the same time, average declared income and elevation of each municipality did not correlated to any fires’ variable. To the contrary, the average fire size, the percentage of burnt area per municipality and the proportion of cropland affected by fires correlated positively with the distance from the inner city and the total surface area of each municipality and negatively with the proportion of compact settlements, population density and growth. These results confirm the importance of the urban-rural divide determining the spatial distribution of forest fires in Attica while pointing out the modest influence of variables such as the socioeconomic status of resident population.

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Salvati, L. , Ferrara, A. and Carlucci, M. (2014) Understanding the Spatial Distribution of Forest Fires in a Growing Urban Region: Socioeconomic Indicators Tell You More. Modern Economy, 5, 211-218. doi: 10.4236/me.2014.53022.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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