Considering equity in wildfire protection
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Matthew R. Auer
Publication Year: 2021

Cataloging Information

  • equality
  • fire mitigation
  • Firewise
  • homeowners insurance
  • polycentric governance
  • wildland fire
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: September 4, 2021
FRAMES Record Number: 64336


Climate change, drought, forest pest infestations, and pathogens, and high fuel loadings all factor into the expansion of territory in the United States deemed high-risk for high-intensity wildfire. Risks also mount as a decades-long demographic shift plays out, with individuals and families relocating from urban centers to more sparsely populated, vegetated areas on the margins of cities and towns–a trend that accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. As some insurance carriers cease underwriting homeowners insurance in wildfire-prone areas, property owners can be expected to shoulder more costs for home hardening. The equity implications of who pays to fireproof homes and neighborhoods will intensify as wildfire risks multiply in areas beyond the comparatively wealthier wildland-urban interfaces (WUI) of the Pacific coastal states. Systems of polycentric governance, consisting of problem-solving actors who collaborate across jurisdictional and geographical boundaries, can help make wildfire mitigation more equitable. Polycentric governance institutions already help communities adapt to destructive wildfire in the United States. Lessons learned from these institutions must be tailored to poor and marginalized communities in harm’s way–with a sense of urgency.

Online Link(s):
Auer, Matthew R. 2021. Considering equity in wildfire protection. Sustainability Science online early.