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    Author(s): Susan Charnley; Melissa R. Poe; Alan A. AgerThomas A. Spies; Emily K. Platt; Keith A. Olsen
    Date: 2015
    Source: Human Organization
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.0 MB)


    Disasters result from hazards affecting vulnerable people. Most disasters research by anthropologists focuses on vulnerability; this article focuses on natural hazards. We use the case of wildfire mitigation on United States Forest Service lands in the northwestern United States to examine social, political, and economic variables at multiple scales that influence fire hazard and risk reduction treatments and their effectiveness. Variables highlighted include policy direction to prioritize wildfire risk reduction in the wildland-urban interface, laws and policies that make treating fuels in some national forest land management allocations challenging, social and political constraints on using prescribed fire, agency budget and target pressures, and integrating fire hazard reduction into forest management projects having multiple objectives. These variables compromise the effectiveness of wildfire mitigation treatments. Understanding the social dynamics of natural hazard mitigation is important because they affect its outcomes, creating differential exposure to natural hazards-one component of social vulnerability. Interdisciplinary research to identify how the social dynamics of natural hazard mitigation influence hazard reduction outcomes can contribute to more informed and effective approaches to disaster risk reduction.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Charnley, Susan; Poe, Melissa R.; Ager, Alan A.; Spies, Thomas A.; Platt, Emily K.; Olsen, Keith A. 2015. A burning problem: social dynamics of disaster risk reduction through wildfire mitigation. Human Organization. 74(4): 329-340.


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    natural hazard mitigation, Forest Service, United States

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