People, Fire, And Forests: Community Perspectives

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People, Fire, And Forests: Community Perspectives

  1. 1. People, Fire & Forests: Community Perspectives Matt Carroll Patricia Cohn Department of Natural Resource Sciences Washington State University
  2. 2. Premise (With apologies to Tip O’Neill): All fire is local!!!
  3. 3. Introduction Fire is a biophysical/ecological disturbance Fire is also a social disturbance Fire is a cause and effect of both – Ecological dynamics – Social dynamics
  4. 4. Human-Forest Fire Interaction Biophysical environment Socio-demographic characteristics/dynamics Socio-cultural characteristics/dynamics
  5. 5. Human-Forest Fire Interaction Temporal framework of community-fire dynamics: – Before – During – After
  6. 6. Communities Affected by Fire Before the fire event: preparedness and risk reduction During the fire event: disruption, uncertainty and coordination After the fire event: rehabilitation and recovery
  7. 7. Objective Summarize what is currently known about human community dynamics, decisions and dilemmas before, during and after major fire events
  8. 8. Jakes & Nelson: Critical Initiatives prior to a Fire Rich literature of case studies showing what individuals & communities are doing to address physical and social preparedness
  9. 9. Physical Preparedness Safety of physical facilities to minimize loss of life, injury and property damage – Vegetation management – Communications systems – Water access systems – Public education programs
  10. 10. Social Preparedness Outcome of the social processes and institutions essential for community action – Partnerships – Laws/ordinances – Planning institutions – Decision-making networks
  11. 11. Carroll & Cohn: Consequences of Actions During the Fire Suppression tactics and strategy Conflict may occur among firefighting entities Improve integration, collaboration, training, and coordination of federal and non-federal firefighting agencies
  12. 12. Fire Event Processes Evacuation Law enforcement Media coverage Communication Purchases and hiring Firefighting Assistance organizations
  13. 13. Impacts and Consequences What impacts do fire events have on the day to day lives of residents of affected communities? Impacts occur at different levels of social organization – Individual – Family – Neighborhood – Social group – Community
  14. 14. Summary Communities often find themselves ill-prepared for the multi-dimensional nature of the problems of large fires What happens during a fire has the potential to affect internal community dynamics and community/land management agency relations for years to come
  15. 15. Burchfield: Consequences of Actions After the Fire Agencies will be burdened by rehabilitation and recovery needs Post-fire ‘bounce’ for innovation, land use planning and institutional change Community-level recovery from wildfires is difficult to predict
  16. 16. Consequences to Human Communities Biophysical Social-demographic Social-cultural Paucity of research on the impacts of fire on human communities
  17. 17. Consequences Biophysical – Vast literature – Salvage logging is a controversial aspect in relation to human communities – Soil movement: landslides, mud/debris flows
  18. 18. Consequences Socio-demographic – Emotional & aesthetic impact – Real estate downturns short- lived – Economics- suppression costs continue to increase- do costs outweigh benefits?
  19. 19. Consequences Socio-cultural – Emotional, psychological impacts: mirrors findings from disaster literature – Integration and coordination among organizations important in the recovery process – Greatest opportunities for institutional change or land use planning are greatest afterwards
  20. 20. Post-fire Recovery Parallels other natural disasters Variability of communities makes generalization difficult Nested layers of complexity affect community responses to fire
  21. 21. Summary Chapters present a reasonably comprehensive overview about research on human communities and fire. Communities are the focus when talking about the human and social impacts of wildfire.

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