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Letdowns, Wake-Up Calls, and Constructed Preferences: People’s Responses to Fuel and Wildfire Risks

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This article presents results from three studies, which seek to develop a better understanding of some of the difficulties faced by forest managers in making wildfire risk management decisions. Study 1 showed that both the experts and the public tend to emphasize uncontrollable factors when asked to consider the causes of wildfires. Study 2 revealed the large role played by emotional responses in judgments about wildfire risks. Study 3 showed that preferences for risk management options tend to be remarkably malleable in response to even slight shifts in framing. In contrast to previous studies that call for improved public education about wildfire, our results emphasize the need to introduce improved processes to inform both expert and public decisionmaking for fire risk management.

Keywords: decisionmaking; policy; risk management; wildland fire

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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