Student researcher

Simone Ruane Research Leader

Over the past two decades, southern Australia has experienced a pronounced increase in destructive bushfire events. Based on climate change projections, the frequency and intensity of bushfires in the region is expected to rise. Although Australia has a long history of bushfire management, planning for bushfire is gaining increasing attention as both a critical policy issue and research priority. In particular, there is a growing imperative to address bushfire risk at the urban bushland interface (UBI) which, despite being identified as highly fire prone, are also high population growth areas. The expansion of urban settlements into bushland areas, which also have ecological value, raises many complex and contentious planning dilemmas regarding both community safety and bushland conservation. Planning for bushfire risk at the UBI is a multi-scale, cross-sectoral issue that requires an integrated approach. Local governments however play an important role in bushfire management through their duty to implement urban planning policies, to undertake vegetation and fire management, and to engage and educate their respective communities. This PhD research aims to make a contribution to the field of bushfire management and governance in local government areas by examining the connections and contentions that exists between urban planning, bushfire management and urban bushland conservation. The study is located within the South West of Western Australia (SW), which is a bushfire prone region and a Global Biodiversity Hotspot. The first question of this thesis is ‘what is the current role and capacity of local government in planning for bushfire risk at the UBI, Western Australia?’ The second research question is ‘how do current Western Australian policy and institutional settings enable or inhibit local governments to apply the principles of adaptive governance in planning for bushfire risk’.