Mass
Worldwide, increasingly catastrophic wildfires highlight the importance of risk governance at the regional level, given the tendency for wildfires to spread across large areas of a landscape. These governance systems features numerous collective action problems, because the likelihood that wildfire spreads to a given location depends on forest management practices on adjacent and sometimes distant lands. A growing body of empirical work demonstrates that good environmental governance outcomes depend upon how well patterns of interaction among stakeholders align with patterns of ecological connectivity, such as wildfire transmission. However, the factors facilitate or inhibit this alignment remain poorly understood. We introduce the concept of “risk interdependence archetypes”, which distinguish between types of costs and benefits of risk mitigation associated with different spatial configurations of ecological connectivity in polycentric governance systems. We then develop a set of hypotheses for how these archetypes conditionally alter the net benefits of social-ecological alignment. We test these hypotheses using inferential network analysis of a risk transmission network developed through simulation of wildfires over several thousand fire seasons and a governance network created from interviews with 154 representatives of 87 policy actors involved in efforts to mitigate wildfire risk in the Eastern Cascades, USA. Results indicate that alignment is more likely when organizations can capture a greater share of the benefits of risk mitigation. Importantly, the likelihood of coordination was not positive for all archetypes of risk interdependence, implying that organizations have limited capacity for interaction, and may prioritize certain high-payoff forms of alignment over others. While performance of risk governance system may depend upon alignment of social and ecological networks, we show that alignment is shaped by stakeholder-level strategies for interaction with other stakeholders.