Bushfires and Biodiversity: Optimising conservation outcomes in peri-urban areas at risk

By jjron [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia CommonsA collaboration between the University of South Australia, University of Adelaide, SA Government Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources and two regional Natural Resource Management Boards to investigate community perceptions of bushfires and biodiversity.

Catastrophic fires in peri-urban regions of Australia are reframing perceptions of what constitutes effective vegetation management. The Country Fire Service warns that South Australia can expect serious bushfires in six or
seven out of every ten years. With major risks to place, property and people, the management of vegetation for bushfire risk mitigation is highly contentious.

Bushfires and Biodiversity explores perceptions of vegetation management regimes in peri-urban areas facing high bushfire risk in the Adelaide-Mt Lofty Ranges and Eyre Peninsula. It addresses and seeks to balance two concerns:

  1. the threat of destructive bushfires occurring close to residential areas; and
  2. the need for effective conservation measures to maintain important and unique biodiversity.

The aim is to determine stakeholders’ understanding of vegetation risks and values and what motivates the decisions of managers, communities, individuals and other key stakeholders when faced with a significant threat of bushfires in areas of high biodiversity value.

The project will be led by researchers from UniSA’s School of Natural and Built Environments (Associate Professor Delene Weber and Dr Emily Moskwa) and the Discipline of Geography, Environment and Population at the University of Adelaide (Professor Guy Robinson and Dr Douglas Bardsley). They will work closely with partners in SA’s Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) and two regional Natural Resource Management Boards (Adelaide-Mount Lofty Ranges and Eyre Peninsula).

The information collected will be used to develop a policy response framework to simultaneously retain environmental values while mitigating fire risk. Findings will assist policymakers with their management of public responses to fire risk and conservation issues, and will guide the development of community engagement programs to enhance public awareness of bushfire risk, conservation, and the role of fire in maintaining biodiversity.

Bushfire warningBushfire Risk Sign

Project Funding

The project has attracted over $236K from the Australian Research Council Linkage Projects scheme in addition to support from Partner Organisations DEWNR and the two regional NRMBs, who together have contributed an additional $120K cash plus in-kind support.

For further information, please contact Postdoctoral Research Fellow Emily Moskwa.

Areas of study and research

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