I had the opportunity last week to attend the first-ever Wildland Fire Canada (2010) conference [http://www.wildlandfirecanada.ca/] in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario. My mission was to gain a better understanding of Canada’s FireSmart initiative (the Canadian counterpart to Firewise), and to learn about the latest wildfire mitigation research emerging from our northern neighbors.
One presentation in particular is worth highlighting. Rob Harris, Information Officer for Alberta’s Sustainable Resource Development group [http://srd.alberta.ca/], enlightened the audience with creative ways to enhance wildfire mitigation efforts by changing social behavior. Rob gave us an example of how tweaking the message delivery can achieve the results we intended – in other words, get people to do what we want. Case in point: Washington DC got National Mall tourists to increase their recycling habits by working with local mall vendors. Whenever a tourist would purchase ahttp://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef0134885e4bb4970c-pi recyclable product (e.g. glass or aluminum can), the vendor would remind them that they could recycle this at one of the many bins throughout the mall. Prior to this intervention, tourists were indiscriminately throwing away their cans and bottles into any garbage bin, and vendors were not engaged in the recycling effort at all. By asking folks to recycle at the time of sale, people were paying attention to the product rather than getting distracted by the tourist sites. The efforts paid off – recycling tripled and vendors benefited from the recycling program’s profits.