Balancing fire risk and human thermal comfort in fire-prone urban landscapes

Autoři: Tania A. MacLeod aff001;  Amy K. Hahs aff002;  Trent D. Penman aff001
Působiště autorů: School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, Bushfire Behaviour and Management, The University of Melbourne, Creswick, Victoria, Australia aff001;  Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology (ARCUE), c/o School of BioSciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia aff002
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(12)
Kategorie: Research Article


Vegetation in urban areas provides many essential ecosystem services. These services may be indirect, such as carbon sequestration and biological diversity, or direct, including microclimate regulation and cultural values. As the global population is becoming ever more urbanized these services will be increasingly vital to the quality of life in urban areas. Due to the combined effects of shading and evapotranspiration, trees have the potential to cool urban microclimates and mitigate urban heat, reduce thermal discomfort and help to create comfortable outdoor spaces for people. Understory vegetation in the form of shrubs and grass layers are also increasingly recognized for the positive role they play in human aesthetics and supporting biodiversity. However, in fire-prone urban landscapes there are risks associated with having denser and more complex vegetation in public open spaces. We investigated the effects of plant selection and planting arrangement on fire risk and human thermal comfort using the Forest Flammability Model and Physiological Equivalent Temperature (PET), to identify how planting arrangement can help balance the trade-offs between these risks and benefits. Our research demonstrated the importance of vertical separation of height strata and suggests that Clumped and Continuous planting arrangements are the most effective way of keeping complex vegetation in public open space to deliver the greatest human thermal comfort benefit while minimizing potential fire behaviour. This study provides an example of how existing research tools in multiple ecological fields can be combined to inform positive outcomes for people and nature in urban landscapes.

Klíčová slova:

Fire engineering – Fire suppression technology – Fuels – Humidity – Shrubs – Summer – Trees – Urban areas


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