Holly Foster

Dr Holly Foster

Dr Holly Foster

Lead end user

This project aimed to provide evidence on the economic, social, and environmental impacts of natural hazards, in order to help hazard managers make better decisions about the allocation of resources for the mitigation of natural hazards impacts. The main focus of this research was the development of tools and materials that make it easier for natural hazards managers to estimate the value of mitigation, integrate intangible (non-market) values in economic analyses of mitigation, and evaluate the difference it makes to include non-market values. Through this project, the research team launched an online platform for the Value Tool for Natural Hazards, a searchable database of the best available non-market value estimates relevant to natural hazards; developed the Economic Analysis Screening Tool for the evaluation of the costs and benefits of mitigation options; created an online video course on the economics of natural hazards to explain economic concepts and how they are applied to evaluate different mitigation options; and conducted an online training course for managers and practitioners on how to use economics in natural hazards management.
Research team:

What if an earthquake hit central Adelaide? A major flood on the Yarra River through Melbourne? A bushfire on the slopes of Mount Wellington over Hobart?

‘What if?’ scenario modelling through this project is helping government, planning authorities and emergency service agencies think through the costs and consequences of various options on preparing for major disasters on their infrastructure and natural environments and how these might change into the future.

The research is based on the premise that to reduce both the risk and cost of natural disasters, an integrated approach is needed to consider multiple hazards and a range of mitigation options.

This project has estimated the impact of four natural hazards in recent Australian history on income of individuals residing in disaster-hit areas. By defining individuals’ ability to return to their pre-disaster income levels as economic resilience, the research team focused on the following case studies: the 2009 Victorian Black Saturday bushfires, the 2009 Toodyay bushfires, 2013’s Tropical Cyclone Oswald in Queensland, and the 2010-11 Queensland floods. Through real-life case studies, this research helps illustrate how these events—of different types, localities, and scales—impact and ripple through communities and the broader economy over time. The research found that the extent of the economic impact of disasters on individuals’ income depends on the type, intensity, and location of the disaster. The project has produced four research reports pertaining to each case study, along with four policy briefs that summarised each report. The project also produced demographic profiling analyses for each disaster analysed. The findings from these four case studies were disseminated to a national audience through a webinar in August 2020.
Research team:

Current government spending on natural disaster response is more than 20 times the spending on preparedness. Many climate-related natural hazards are increasing, along with the number of people living in hazard-prone areas. Large natural disasters also cross domains, moving from the private to the public realm, and shifting from a local, to a state or national concern. This raises the potential of future, unmanaged risks.

This project mapped a broad range of economic, social and environmental values and related them to natural hazards across several case studies. It explored who owns these values and what happens when they cross domains, as well as how a range of alternative strategies may contribute to improved resilience by sustaining economic, social and environmental values in a changing environment.

Research team:

This project developed an index of the current state of disaster resilience in Australian communities – the Australian Disaster Resilience Index. The Index is a tool for assessing the resilience of communities to natural hazards at a large scale and is designed to provide input into macro-level policy, strategic planning and community engagement activities at national, state and local government levels.

Deliverables include the development of disaster resilience indicators, maps of disaster resilience at multiples scales, a State of Disaster Resilience Report, and examples that use the Index in a natural hazard resilience planning context.

This project investigated the limits and potentials of integrated urban planning for natural hazard mitigation in Australia, and the ways in which key planning processes for risk-based decision making in the built environment can be improved. In doing so, the research team identified many gaps in the ways urban planning and natural hazard risk management are integrated together. Learnings from this project were captured in a set of scalable and adaptable diagnostic tools that are part of critical frameworks for best practice in integrating urban planning and natural hazard mitigation in Australia. These diagnostic tools allow assessment of integration and risk management across urban planning and emergency management systems and processes.
The Recovery Capitals (ReCap) project aimed to promote wellbeing after disasters by examining the disaster recovery evidence base and producing a set of resources to help guide recovery efforts. The project developed a suite of resources that serve a range of purposes and are designed to guide disaster recovery efforts across different community contexts.
Research team:

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