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Neighbourhood bushfire hazard, community risk perception and preparedness in peri-urban Hobart, Australia
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.
Australian Research Council
Publication titleInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Department/SchoolSchool of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences
PublisherC S I R O Publishing
Place of publicationAustralia
Rights statement© 2022 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing on behalf of IAWF.