Making strategic choices

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Fire Note 124: 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.

Two different case studies were undertaken: Central Otago, New Zealand, and Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia. 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.

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