Landscape fires as social disasters: An overview of ‘the bushfire problem’

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Community Safety
TitleLandscape fires as social disasters: An overview of ‘the bushfire problem’
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsA. Gill, M
JournalGlobal Environmental Change Part B: Environmental Hazards
Pagination65 - 80
Date Published2005
AbstractThe ‘landscape’, ‘bushfire’ or ‘forest-fire’ problem is exemplified by the destruction of homes and human lives by landscape fires raging out of control. The ‘problem’ involves a series of landscapes (e.g. wildland and suburb), a series of systems (e.g. biophysical system and environmental-effects system), and a series of time phases (e.g. planning phase). It is a multi-stakeholder, multi-variable, multi-scale problem. Land uses, like ‘farmland’, imply a set of specific assets and, therefore, particular perceptions of losses. In all land-use designations, at any one point, fire-proneness may be seen as a function of exposure to ignition sources (embers, burning brands or flame radiation and flame contact) and the ease of ignition. The landscape-fire problem has multiple partial ‘solutions’, not just one overall solution, and these involve social governance, land management (public and private), suppression capacity and personal preparedness. The problem needs to be addressed at multiple temporal and spatial scales in an integrated fashion for the outcome to be of maximal benefit. There will always be a residual risk of severe fire occurrence. Minimisation of residual risk requires effective land management, recurrent funding and the perpetual vigilance of all parties.
Short TitleGlobal Environmental Change Part B: Environmental Hazards
Refereed DesignationRefereed