Community Views on Wildfire Risk and Preparedness in the Wildland-Urban Interface February 2020
This survey was conducted between May and July 2018 with 143 community representatives as a follow-up to our 2018 Summary Report.
Communities throughout BC continue to be aware of and very concerned about current and future threats from wildfire in the wildland-urban interface (WUI). There was overwhelming agreement that improvements are needed to address key barriers to community engagement with prevention programs, including governance and capacity issues. In addition to more financial resources, a clear outline of funding programs and more effective communication and collaboration across agencies and boundaries are needed in order to improve the capacity of communities to respond to wildfire risks. Barriers to engagement in government-led wildfire prevention programs are not related to perceptions of risk (which are high), but rather linked with resources, capacity and support. There is consensus that all levels of government – municipal, regional, provincial, federal, and First Nations – as well as industry and business, and individual homeowners – should be doing more to reduce wildfire risk. Solutions to enable community action should prioritize the most at risk communities and must account for cultural differences.
Next Research Steps
We have completed interviews with a sample of Community Forest Managers across BC to better understand perception of risk in the wildland-urban interface and explore potentially novel and innovative community-based solutions to overcome barriers to engagement with wildfire mitigation. We hope that these interviews will help us clearly define the diversity of challenges of and best practices for addressing the urgent need to mitigate wildfire risk.
We thank the 143 respondents for sharing their community experiences and insights. A Community Solutions Grant from the Peter Wall Institute of Advances Studies at the University of British Columbia funded this research.
Project partners are the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), First Nations’ Emergency Services Society (FNESS), BC Community Forest Association (BCCFA) and BC Wildfire Service (BCWS). The UBCM, FNESS and BCWS are members of British Columbia’s Provincial Fuel Management Working Group, which manages the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative (SWPI). We thank UBCM, FNESS, and BCCFA for sharing the invitation for this survey to their members via newsletters and their websites.
For constructive feedback on the draft survey, we thank the following leaders of key agencies involved in various aspects of preventative wildfire management in BC:
Jeff Eustache, Forest Fuel Manager, First Nations’ Emergency Services Society
Danyta Welsh, Policy & Programs Officer, Union of British Columbia Municipalities
Peter Hisch, Fuel Treatment Specialist, BC Wildfire Service (retired January 2017)
Al Neal, Provincial Specialist, Ecological Restoration BC
Greg Anderson, Executive Director (2016-7), Forest Enhancement Society of BC
Dave Clarke, Executive Director and Tim Ryan, Chair (2014-2017), Forest Practices Board of British Columbia
Ravensbergen, S., K. Copes-Gerbitz, S. Dickson-Hoyle, S.M. Hagerman, and L.D. Daniels. 2020. Community Views on Wildfire Risk and Preparedness in the Wildland Urban Interface. Report to the Union of BC Municipalities, First Nations’ Emergency Services Society, BC Community Forest Association and BC Wildfire Service. February 2020. 32pp.