California State University, Long Beach
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Author of the Month

Wildfire Risk: Human Perceptions and Management Implications

Wade Martin, professor, Economics

Wildfire Risk Book CoverPublished in 2006 by the Washington, D.C.-based Resources for the Future Press, Wildfire Risk is edited by Martin and the USDA Forest Service’s Carol Raish and Brian Kent. The volume includes contributed chapters from scholars in the field of psychology, decision analysis, marketing, sociology, and other social sciences. Wildfire Risk follows from an increasing awareness among fire experts that relying on fire behavior models from the physical sciences to design a risk management program is no longer sufficient – and that simply increasing public knowledge related to wildfire hazard does not necessarily lead to appropriate risk reduction behaviors. Public land managers, property developers, landowners, and politicians must ask more about the social and psychological factors that motivate people to respond to risk. Thus far the majority of research and applied work about human responses to wildfire mitigation has been directed at individuals rather than communities. Drawing heavily upon health and risk communication, the contributors to Wildfire Risk highlight the differences between the ways that individuals and communities respond to wildfire risk. Wildfire Risk concludes with a dedicated section on risk-modeling, with perspectives from the decision sciences, geography, operations research, psychology, experimental economics, and other social sciences.