Mapping Settlements in the Wildland Urban Interface: A Decision Tree Approach

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Department 1

Environmental Studies


The wildland–urban interface (WUI) is the area where human-built structures intermingle or abut wildland vegetation. Maps of the WUI are important for resource management, particularly related to wildfire mitigation, but are often based on spatially coarse data such as housing counts from census blocks. Here, three decision tree models are used to create maps of human settlements for use in delineating the WUI. The first model uses statistics derived from image objects; the second model uses data related to topography, amenities, and accessibility; and the third model uses all available data. The accuracy of the models was evaluated in terms of the percentage of actual structures that fall within the area delineated as settlements. Overall, the three decision models performed similarly, although the third decision tree model was the best. For delineating settlements, all three decision tree models represent an improvement over a null model and the Radeloff et al. (2005) WUI mapping methodology and perform similar to the Wilmer and Aplet (2005) WUI mapping methodology. The models are also more flexible than many existing models, as they allow users to trade off accuracy and the size of the delineated settlement. The strategies described here can potentially yield improved maps of the WUI over larger areas.


Original version is available from the publisher at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00330124.2011.601191?journalCode=rtpg20#.UtcIRdJDvTo



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