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Neighbourhood bushfire hazard, community risk perception and preparedness in peri-urban Hobart, Australia


Lucas, CH and Williamson, GJ and Bowman, DMJS, Neighbourhood bushfire hazard, community risk perception and preparedness in peri-urban Hobart, Australia, International Journal of Wildland Fire, 31, (12) pp. 1129-1143. ISSN 1448-5516 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1071/WF22099


Background:Information campaigns about bushfire preparedness are often based on the assumption that residents of bushfire-prone neighbourhoods underestimate their risk. However, there are complex relationships between bushfire hazard, perceived risk, and adaptive action.

Aims:We investigate how residents’ understanding of bushfire risk relates to biophysical risk in the City of Hobart, Tasmania: Australia’s most fire-prone state capital. Methods: A transdisciplinary case study using a survey of 406 residents living close to the wildland/urban interface, focus groups in four bushfire-prone neighbourhoods, and geospatial fire risk assessment.

Key Results:Neighbourhood concern about bushfire is statistically associated with biophysical measurement of local bushfire risk. This awarenessdoes not necessarily translate into adaptive action, in part because residents underestimate the risk to their homes from fuels on their own property and overestimate the risk from bushland and neighbouring properties, leading to a common response that preparing for bushfire is futile if your neighbours do not also prepare. Neighbourhoods with high levels of positive community interaction, however, are more likely to access preparedness information, and develop fire-adaptive behaviours.

Conclusions/Implications:Our findings highlight the need for social adaptation pathways using local communication interventions to build theneighbourhood knowledge, networks and capacities that enable community-led bushfire preparedness.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:bushfire, community bushfire preparedness, Hobart, pyrogeography, risk communication, risk perception, social adaptation to climate change, Tasmania, wildfire.
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Human geography
Research Field:Social geography
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Adaptation to climate change
Objective Field:Climate change adaptation measures (excl. ecosystem)
UTAS Author:Lucas, CH (Dr Chloe Lucas)
UTAS Author:Williamson, GJ (Dr Grant Williamson)
UTAS Author:Bowman, DMJS (Professor David Bowman)
ID Code:154527
Year Published:2022
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (SR200200441)
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2022-12-09
Last Modified:2023-01-04

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