Wildfire and Community: Facilitating Preparedness and Resilience by Paton and Tedim (2012) (Book Review)

MARCH, Alana

a Department of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, e-mail: alanpm@unimelb.edu.au

There is increasing acknowledgement that social and community factors are fundamental aspects of disaster resilience. This book brings together recent research concerned with the ways that individuals and communities make choices impacting on risks associated with wildfire, alternatively known as bushfire or forest fire. A key theme of this edited book of 17 chapters is that new approaches are required if notions of shared responsibility for disaster are to be taken seriously. Where previously responders where seen as the primary actors, this book brings together a range of research demonstrating that the relationships people have with each other in communities, relevant disaster agencies, and with the hazards themselves, are paramount to effective disaster risk reduction.

Using research conducted in Australia, Chile, Cyprus, Greece, India, Portugal and the United States, the social dimensions of risk are examined by eminent researchers. Many important messages are delivered, such as the importance of pre-existing relationships and socio economic circumstances for people’s resilience. The book highlights the need to deal with differences in gender roles in emergency situations, the importance of appropriate community participation, and acknowledgement that people cannot be understood as passive populations upon whom disasters have impacts, but as diverse and dynamic subjects with a range of vulnerabilities that can often be improved. For example, working on people’s outcome expectancy, whether or not they think preparing will affect their chances of survival, can significantly improve resilience alongside modifying actual competencies. New technology is shown to be an important factor in people’s decision making, and the research demonstrates the need for agencies to engage with new media to ensure decisions are based upon good quality information. Clearly written, this book will be a valuable resource for those working with communities at risk from a range of hazards, even while it focuses on wildfire.

References

Paton, D., and Tedim, F. (Eds.). (2012). Wildfire and Community: Facilitating Preparedness and Resilience. Springfield: Charles C Thomas. ISBN 978-0-398-08842-2.

Citation

March, A. (2013): Wildfire and Community: Facilitating Preparedness and Resilience by Paton and Tedim (2012) (Book Review). In: Planet@Risk, 1(1): 57, Davos: Global Risk Forum GRF Davos.