Concerning threats, valued landscapes: Visualising the awareness-action gap in bushfire-prone settings

Authors: Chris Brennan-Horley*, University of Wollongong, Nicholas Gill, University of Wollongong, Olivia Dun, University of Melbourne
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Qualitative Research, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: Qualitative GIS, wildfire, bushfire, landscape
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon B3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the context of bushfire management, previous research has highlighted an awareness-action gap between amenity migrant’s understandings of bushfire risk and their levels of preparedness (Eriksen and Gill 2010). Importantly this work illustrates that diverse everyday life decisions and concerns impact understandings of and responses to bushfire risk. This research attempts to bring a spatial lens to the awareness-action gap by focusing upon what landholders do on their properties to prepare for bushfire, where these vegetation management activities might occur and why.
Fieldwork was undertaken with landholders at the WUI in the Blue Mountains on Sydney’s outskirts and Wamboin on the NSW/ACT border – two sites that epitomise amenity-led transformation of previously rural landscapes. Our approach involved in depth discussions with residents about their values and drivers relating to vegetation, landscape and fire, but grounded these conversations through a qualitative mapping exercise. Accordingly, qualitative GIS offered this research both a generative tool and an analytical frame for understanding the idiosyncrasies of property management, generating insight into where compatibilities and frictions between aesthetic concerns and vegetation management played out. Subsequent GIS analysis uncovered the complexities evident in decisions made by residents at 20 and 100 metre distance intervals from their homes – spatial decisions tempered by unique combinations of a range of physical, cultural, economic and historical factors.

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