Enhancing Forest Fires Preparedness in Portugal: Integrating Community Engagement and Risk Management

Douglas Paton, Fantina Tedim

Abstract


The growing incidence, size, intensity and duration of forest fires and escalating economic constraints have made reliance on fire suppression activities as the main fire management strategies, in Portugal, less tenable. Recognition of this led fire and municipal civil protection agencies to include community preparedness in comprehensive risk management planning. Because this is a new element of risk management in Portugal, agencies need information on cost effective approaches to facilitate community preparedness. Using data from a study of forest fire preparedness in Portugal, this article discusses the development and testing of a model of forest fire preparedness. Data from 197 residents from several communities in northern Portugal were used to test the model. Analysis confirmed that people’s beliefs about the effectiveness of preparing (outcome effectiveness) interacted with social processes and competencies (community participation, collective efficacy) to explain differences in levels of forest fire preparedness. Because the social processes and competencies identified derived from people’s life and community experiences, the findings highlight the importance of integrating risk communication with community engagement and development strategies if the goal of increasing preparedness is to be effectively pursued. Activities fire and municipal agencies can use to facilitate preparedness are discussed, as is the potential for using the model in Europe and Australia.


Keywords


Forest Fire Preparedness; Risk Communication; Community Engagement; Development

Full Text:

PDF HTML

References


AFAC - Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (2005): Position Paper on Bushfires and Community Safety, Melbourne: Australasian Fire Authorities Council Limited.

Brislin, R. (1986): The wording and translation of research instruments, in Lonner, W., Berry J. (ed.), Field methods in cross-cultural research, Newbury Park: Sage Publications.

Earle, T. (2004): Thinking aloud about trust: A protocol analysis of trust in risk management, Risk Analysis, 24(1): 169-83.

Eng, E., Parker, E. (1994): Measuring community competence in the Mississippi Delta: The interface between program evaluation and empowerment, Health Education Quarterly, 21: 199-220.

Hofstede, G. (2001): Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations across Nations,Thousand Oaks CA.: Sage.

Hu, L., Bentler, P.M. (1999): Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives, Structural Equation Modeling 6(1): 1-55.

JRC- Joint Research Center (2011): Forest Fires in Europe 2010, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Kline, R.B. (2005): Principles and Practice of Structural Equation Modeling (2nd ed.), New York: The Guilford Press.

National Fire Plan - Plano Nacional de Defesa da Floresta Contra Incêndios (2006): Resoluço do Resolução do Conselho de Ministros n.o 65/2006, Diário da República N.o 102—26 de Maio de 2006 DIÃRIO DA REPÚBLICA- I SÉRIE-B: 3511-3559. Available at http://www.icnf.pt/portal/florestas/ dfci / Resource/pdf/dgrf-2006-pndfci-rcm65.pdf.

Paton, D. (2008): Risk communication and natural hazard mitigation: How trust influences its effectiveness, International Journal of Global Environmental Issues, 8(1/2): 2-16.

Paton, D., Bishop, B. (1996): Disasters and communities: Promoting psychosocial well-being, in Paton, D., Long. N. (ed.), Psychological Aspects of Disaster: Impact, Coping, and Intervention, Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.

Paton, D., Bürgelt, P.T., Prior, T. (2008): Living with Bushfire Risk: Social and environmental influences on preparednessAustralian Journal of Emergency Management, 23:41-48.

Paton, D. et al. (2005): When good intentions turn bad: Promoting hazard preparedness, Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 20: 25-30.

Paton, D., Tedim, F., (2012): A Dimensão Social dos Incêndios Florestais. Identificação de factores que contribuem para uma gestão sustentada e integrada, in: Tedim F., Paton D. (ed.), A Dimensão Social dos Incêndios Florestais. Contributo para uma gestão integrada e sustentável, Porto, Portugal: Estratégias Criativas.

Paton, D., Wright, L. (2008): Preparing for Bushfires: The public education challenges facing fire agencies, in Handmer J., Haynes, K. (ed.), Community Bushfire Safety, Canberra: CSIRO Publishing.

Pearce, L. (2003): Disaster Management and Community Planning, and Public Participation: How to Achieve Sustainable Hazard Mitigation, Natural Hazards, 28, 211-222.

Pyne, S.J. (2007): Megaburning: the meaning of megafires and the means of the management. In: Proceedings of the Wildfire 2007–4th International Wildland Fire Conference, Seville, Spain.

Kearney, S., Warren, M. (2006): Mega-Fires of the Future. A Hellish Bushfire Prospect Awaits. Report From The Australian (September 26).

San-Miguel, J. (2011): Mega-Fires – Ecosystems at Risk: Perspectives and Lessons Learned from Around the World. Exploring the Mega-fire Reality 2011 – A Forest Ecology and Management Conference. 14–17 November 2011, Florida State University Conference Center, Florida, USA.

San-Miguel , J., Camia, A. (2009): Forest Fires at a Glance: Facts, Figures and Trends in the EU, in: Birot, Y. (ed.), Living with wildfires: what science can tell us. A Contribution to the Science-Policy Dialogue, Joensuu: European Forest Institute.

Sheeran, P. (2002): Intention-behaviour relations: A conceptual and empirical review, in Stroebe W. , Hewstone , M. (ed.). European Review of Social Psychology. Chichester: Wiley.

Tedim, F., Remelgado, R., Borges, C., Carvalho, S., Martins, J. (2012): Exploring the occurrence of mega-fires in Portugal, Forest Ecology and Management, (in press, available on line), DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2012.07.031.

Williams, J., Albright, D., Hoffmann, A.A., Eritsov, A., Moore, P.F., Morais, J.C.M., Leonard, M., San Miguel-Ayanz, J., Xanthopoulos, G., van Lierop, P., 2011. Findings and Implications from a Coarse-Scale Global Assessment of Recent Selected Mega-Fires. International Wildland Fire Conference (5th, 9–13 May 2011, Sun City, South Africa). FAO.

Zaccaro, S.J. et al. (1995): Collective efficacy, in: Maddux, J.E. (ed.), Self-efficacy, adaptation, and adjustment: Theory, research, and application. New York: Plenum Press.