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

  • Eriksen C
  • Prior T
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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 south-east 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 (agencycommunity and within community) that can utilise LEK most effectively and facilitate improved community-wide learning about wildfire and wildfire preparedness.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Australia
  • experiential learning
  • natural hazards
  • peri-urban landscapes
  • risk communication

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  • Christine Eriksen

  • Timothy Prior

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