Forest fires pose a growing threat in populated areas around the world, and especially in the Mediterranean basin, with a climate change scenario that involves increasingly intense and destructive fires. Populations located in the urban-forest interface –IUF–, such as Barcelona with its perimeter neighbourhoods extended throughout the Serra de Collserola Natural Park, are especially vulnerable to fires due to the lack of consideration of basic aspects for the prevention and protection of property and people in its planning, development and risk management.
The WUICOM-BCN Fire Resilient Interface Communities of Barcelona project aims to develop a holistic analysis of fire risk at the IUF in Barcelona –focusing on the detection of social, ecosystem and infrastructural vulnerabilities– and to develop specific strategies for the city to increase resilience to fire in the most vulnerable areas. Taking advantage of the synergies between fire engineering and sociology of disasters, and having co-creation spaces with citizens and local agents, WUICOM-BCN will allow the development and application of technologies to analyse the risk and behaviour of WUI fires. Likewise, it will facilitate working with methodologies for analysing the social dimensions involved in vulnerability and resilience in fires so that the solutions proposed for prevention and self-protection are inclusive and sensitive to diversity and the intersection of various forms of social vulnerability.
To carry out these tasks, the project will develop two case studies: Can Rectoret (Les Planes) and Sant Genís dels Agudells (Horta-Guinardó), both neighbourhoods of Barcelona with territory on the southern slopes of the Serra de Collserola Natural Park. Can Rectoret has a high risk of forest fire and fire penetration due to the type of urban-forest interface (where houses are mixed with vegetation and in direct contact with the continuous forest mass), the orientation of the neighbourhood (WSW), its complex topography, the prevailing winds and the presence of residential fuels. Sant Genís dels Agudells, in turn, has a consolidated urban area with apartment towers and other tall buildings, where there is a high risk of ignition and spread of fires from this area to the Serra de Collserola Natural Park, where there are also vulnerable facilities such as residences, schools, training centres, a sports club and a gas station.
As a result of the research carried out at WUICOM-BCN, a sustainable action plan will be designed for fire resilience in areas of special vulnerability of Barcelona that can be exported to other metropolitan IUFs and that serves to inform public policies and promote the citizen participation in raising awareness and protection against fires.