Knowing wildfire risk: scientific interactions with risk mitigation policy and practice in Victoria, Australia

Neale, Timothy, Weir, Jessica K. and McGee, Tara K. 2016, Knowing wildfire risk: scientific interactions with risk mitigation policy and practice in Victoria, Australia, Geoforum, vol. 72, pp. 16-25, doi: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2016.03.008.

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Title Knowing wildfire risk: scientific interactions with risk mitigation policy and practice in Victoria, Australia
Author(s) Neale, TimothyORCID iD for Neale, Timothy
Weir, Jessica K.
McGee, Tara K.
Journal name Geoforum
Volume number 72
Start page 16
End page 25
Total pages 10
Publisher Pergamon Press
Place of publication Oxford, Eng.
Publication date 2016-06
ISSN 0016-7185
Keyword(s) Wildfire
Public policy
Risk mitigation
Simulation modelling
Summary Over the past decade, major landscape wildfires (or ‘bushfires’ in Australia) in fire-prone countries have illustrated the seriousness of this global environmental problem. This natural hazard presents a complex mesh of dynamic factors for those seeking to reduce or manage its costs, as ignitions, hazard behaviour, and the reactions of different human and ecological communities during and after hazard events are all extremely uncertain. But while those at risk of wildfire have been subject to significant research, the social dimensions of its management, including the role of science, have received little attention. This paper reports on a case study of the Barwon-Otway area of Victoria in Australia, a high wildfire risk area that has recently been a pilot site for a new risk mitigation strategy utilising the wildfire simulation model PHOENIX RapidFire. Against simple equations between ‘more science’ and ‘less uncertainty,’ this paper presents results from interviews and a workshop with practitioners to investigate how scientific research interacts with and informs both wildfire policy and practice. We suggest that attending to cultural and social specificities of the application of any technical innovation—such as next generation modelling—raises questions for future research about the roles of narrative, performance, and other knowledges in the sedimentation of science.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.geoforum.2016.03.008
Field of Research 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology
160808 Sociology and Social Studies of Science and Technology
Socio Economic Objective 961004 Natural Hazards in Forest and Woodlands Environments
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, Elsevier
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