Managing Natural Resources for Extreme Climate Events: Differences in Risk Perception Among Urban and Rural Communities in Sydney, Australia

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Climate Change Management, 2016, pp. 181 - 194
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© 2016, Springer International Publishing Switzerland. Lack of perception of the risks posed by climate change has been identified as a major constraint to social adaptation. Factors contributing to risk perception include experience of extreme weather events; socio-cultural factors (norms and values); knowledge of causes, impacts and responses, and socio-demographics. Qualitative data was collected from a series of participatory placed-based workshops conducted in the Greater Sydney and South East regions of New South Wales, Australia with participants drawn from a mix of 12 urban and rural communities. Workshop discussions were based on an Emergency Management Framework: Prepare, Prevent, Respond and Recover (PPRR) for the most important local climate hazards—bushfires, drought, storms, and flooding. Qualitative information from the workshops was examined for evidence of the role of risk perception in the management of natural resources for extreme climate events and the capacity of communities to adapt. Perception of risk differed among locations (urban vs. rural) and types of events, in particular bushfire and flood. Recent experience of an event, livelihood dependency on natural resources and the socio-demographic dynamics of communities were identified as factors contributing to adaptive responses to improve protection of natural resources (such as soils, water and biodiversity).
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