New research: wildfire preparedness and community cohesion

Blog Post created by michelesteinberg Employee on Feb 10, 2014

Dr. Christine Eriksen of the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research at the University of Wollongong, Australia, has posted links to free access to several of her recent research papers on wildfire and social science, including "Wildfire preparedness, community coheshion and social-ecological systems," co-authored with Tim Prior of the Center for Security Studies in Switzerland. Free downloads are available through March 26.

Advocates of Firewise and Fire Adapted Communities concepts and programs should take a look at this paper for its findings regarding the value of social cohesion within communities as it affects wildfire preparedness. The authors conclude that

"...social cohesion increases people's propensity to undertake protective actions in the context of wildfire in two ways: (1) it gives people the support and resources necessary to confront wildfire risk; and (2) it increases the salience of wildfire threat."

The paper provides some important clues for those working to initiate wildfire safety programs in communities, and emphasizes the importances of taking complex social interplay among community members and between local communities and their civil structures into account to improve success.  In places that have a "sense of community," where community members are able to come together to solve problems, there the authors find a key component of wildfire preparedness and resilience.

For more of Dr. Eriksen's work, including a book on gender and wildfire, and another paper with Tim Prior on mental preparedness for wildfire, check her LinkedIn profile or follow her posts on the Linked In Wildland Fire Management subgroup of NFPA.