What bushfire risk management strategies provide the best value for money?
Fire Note 124 details case studies undertaken in Central Otago, New Zealand and the Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia to understand which bushfire risk management strategies provide the best value for money in these locations.
Fire managers have to face a multitude of competing priorities when considering how to reduce losses from future fires. With limited funds, an increasing population to protect from bushfire, and more people living in bushfire-prone areas, fire managers face a significant resource-allocation challenge. Knowing which risk-mitigation strategies provide the best value for money is therefore potentially of great benefit. This study used quantitative analysis that integrated information about risk, management strategies, costs, and values in a spatial context, with high levels of stakeholder consultation. The results highlight the fire risk management strategies (including prescribed burning) that are likely to produce the highest benefit per dollar spent.
Results show that various bushfire risk management strategies have potential to generate benefits when applied in a targeted way. In general, strategies that require implementation over large areas have high costs and are unlikely to provide value for money unless they can generate exceptional levels of fire prevention. The majority of benefits were generated from strategies that were applied within or close to the valuable assets.
Note that these were specific pilot studies and generalisations about prescribed burning for other areas and circumstances should not be drawn from these studies. Both studies show that the methodology works, and it can be used to provide valuable decision-making inputs to fire management programs. Guidelines for how to undertake this type of study are included in the Fire Note.
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