Valuing user preferences for geospatial fire monitoring in guatemala

Jared Berenter, Isaac Morrison, Julie M. Mueller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Like many landscapes across Central America, forests in Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) are increasingly susceptible to forest fire, with most forest fires resulting from un-tended agricultural fires. Fire damage poses significant risk to the MBR’s natural resources and cultural heritage, but budget challenges limit the capacity of national, regional, and local institutions to effectively detect, monitor, and control forest fires. The Geospatial Information System for Fire Management (SIGMA‐I) is a United States government‐subsidized suite of geospatial fire management tools that are widely disseminated, free of charge, to land managers and other users in Guatemala for on‐the‐ground fire prevention and response. Provision of SIGMA‐I geospatial data and tools such as daily thermal “hotspot” maps provide positive benefits for sustainable fire manage-ment. However, little research exists supporting the nonmarket monetary value of geospatial fire monitoring tools and their component features. We used a choice experiment to estimate land man-agers’ willingness to pay for individual attributes of SIGMA‐I hotspot mapping in Guatemala. We found quantitative evidence of positive willingness to pay for geospatial data, demonstrating positive nonmarket value of geospatial data for sustainable fire management in developing countries and regions where agricultural fires are common. Our results indicate strong preferences from Gua-temala’s forest fire management community for improving the frequency of hotspot reporting and reducing detection of erroneous hotspots. As the availability of geospatial data increases, use of tools like SIGMA‐I has the potential to significantly improve fire management, especially in regions where funding and resources for fire management are scarce. Our results support continued multi-national funding for tools like SIGMA‐I for forest fire management in Guatemala and other developing countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12077
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • Choice experiment
  • Forest fire
  • Geospatial
  • Guatemala
  • Hotspot
  • Maya Biosphere Reserve
  • NASA
  • Remote sensing
  • Value of information
  • Willingness to pay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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