That’s a question I ask in an opinion piece published by Risk Frontiers. See Should governments allow fire affected communities to rebuild?‘ (2017) 16(4) Risk Frontiers Newsletter pp 2-4.
Two other recent presentations are:
- Balancing nature conservation and risk management. Presentation to the National Parks Association (ACT) Bushfire Management – Balancing the Risks Symposium, 21 July 2017 [Extract from Symposium proceedings] [Audio].
- Eburn, M and Collins, A, ‘Recognising Limits of International Law in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) as Problem and Solution’. Presentation and the International Law and Disaster Risk Reduction Symposium, University of Reading (UK), 29 June 2017. [Website][Powerpoint] [Audio].
I enjoyed your article.
I can understand the sentiment of preventing fire affected communities from rebuilding, however the reality is that the world contains many different risk, and basing risk management on a principle of avoidance is impossible – only mitigation can be effective, and then often only in reducing the probability or consequence of a particular risk(s). Even an effective mitigation of one risk can lead to an enhancement of others.
Also, as you point out, bushfires are a relatively minor source of risk – car accidents, cyclones, floods etc are more important.
In addition, there are other large risks in prospect – if climate change does drive increasing sea levels as expected, Sydney, for example, would find itself between a rising ocean on one side and bushfire-affected national parks on the other three sides – where exactly would bushfire-affected communities be rebuilt?
Regarding your article “Balancing nature conservation and risk management”
You wrote:- “Other people may want to leave natural areas completely alone, allowing nature to develop its own sustainable eco-system but to do that can lead to a buildup of fuels that in turn allow massive, unstoppable fires to develop or restrict the way fire fighters can do their job.” I would be interested in what your ANU colleagues would have to say about this – in particular the bit about natural areas (presumably long unburnt areas) being the cause of massive unstoppable fires. This is an often expressed opinion [almost intuitive (ipso facto) it may seem] but I have seen little scientific evidence to support it for South Eastern Australia.
Laurence – and fair question too, in fact at the symposium where this paper was presented there was talk that the long unburnt areas being more resilient to fire. I’m not a scientist and that wasn’t supported by reference or science – I was trying to portray competing views (rather than resolve them) to discuss the issue of compromise in the legislation. So don’t cite an unrefereed lawyers paper for the science on bushfire hazard reduction