The art of learning: wildfire, amenity migration and local environmental knowledge

CSIRO Publishing
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Wildland Fire, 2011, 20 (4), pp. 612 - 624
Issue Date:
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Communicating the need to prepare well in advance of the wildfire season is a strategic priority for wildfire management agencies worldwide. However, there is considerable evidence to suggest that although these agencies invest significant effort towards this objective in the lead-up to each wildfire season, landholders in at-risk locations often remain under-prepared. One reason for the poor translation of risk information materials into actual preparation may be attributed to the diversity of people now inhabiting wildfire-prone locations in peri-urban landscapes. These people hold widely varying experiences, beliefs, attitudes and values relating to wildfire, which influence their understanding and interpretation of risk messages - doing so within the constraints of their individual contexts. This paper examines the diversity of types of Local Environmental Knowledge (LEK) present within wildfire-prone landscapes affected by amenity-led in-migration in southeast Australia. It investigates the ways people learn and form LEK of wildfire, and how this affects the ability of at-risk individuals to interpret and act on risk communication messages. We propose a practical framework that complements existing risk education mechanisms with engagement and interaction techniques (agency-community and within community) that can utilise LEK most effectively and facilitate improved community-wide learning about wildfire and wildfire preparedness.
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