Economic analysis of bushfire management programs: a Western Australian perspective

Bushfires can cause considerable damage to ecosystems, life and property. Protecting human and environmental assets is becoming more difficult as the wildland–urban interface expands in Australia. Fire managers can plan for and manage bushfire events to a greater extent than other large natural disturbances such as cyclones and earthquakes. However, fire strategies that have sought to respond to the increasing bushfire threat with greater suppression capacity do not appear to solve the problem of catastrophic bushfires. Although suppression capacity and the use of technology in bushfire management have greatly increased, the frequency of disastrous fires appears to follow an increasing trend.

Improved understanding and comprehensive appraisals of bushfire costs and benefits are needed in order to devise fire mitigation and management programs that optimally allocate resources and express informed, evidence-based judgements about trade-offs between available options. The aim of this project is to provide a comprehensive economic evaluation of alternative fire management programs in Western Australia in order to determine the optimal allocation of scarce resources for bushfire management.

In this paper we present our initial investigations into the application of the cost plus net value change (C+NVC) model to bushfire management programs in Western Australia.

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