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Bushfire Module: Planning and managing for climate change

Create a strategic management framework for building socio-ecological resilience to bushfire in the peri-urban fringe

A WIKI resource

This resource was initially pilotted in 2010 as a 3 week module within a 14 week 25% unit, Planning and Managing for Climate Change, which was part of a graduate course in Land Management and Planning at the University of Tasmania. Students were required to develop a management framework to build socio-ecological resilience for a particular peri-urban area which has a history of being prone to bushfire. The lecturer gave the students an overarching lens of resilience and adaptive management theories which they were required to bring to the issue, drawing on expert understandings of bushfire.

Other theoretical lenses can be brought to the issue according to a lecturer's speciality, with a reframing of the task. Parts of the resource can be used individaully for focussed exploration.

The WIKI resource   provides:

  • detailed interviews and documentation from key stakeholders (fire agencies, infrastructure, policy, community, local government)
  • research perspectives - summaries, expert research, links to articles and reports
  • digests of appropriate sections of the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission (planning and management)
  • an on-line workspace for groups of students to collaborate in completing the task
  • forum for interaction with local experts

Lecturer: Dr Julie Davidson, School of Geography,
University of Tasmania

Lecturer Comments

"I wanted an exercise that involved problem-based and group-based work engaging my students with interdisciplinary practices and the opportunity of working through a complex problem. Climate change is a super wicked problem - it is characterised by a great degree of uncertainty and complexity involving multiple interests, actors and solutions. I needed an on-line solution and a strategic focus to the work. The Wiki ticked-off on all those boxes.

Working with the Bushfire ED team enabled us to develop a high quality learning resource where students have been actively engaged. The value of having expert opinion sitting along-side the documented strategies that the students worked through definitely value-added.

The quality of student thinking has been far higher using the WIKI than I have found in other assignments.

I will be using this next year but extending it to 6 weeks and including a presentation to stakeholders. The pilot showed us that students needed time to engage with scope of the project, then time to get into the detail for analysis. They then needed to move to higher perspectives to come up with their strategic framework and this needed some intervention by the lecturer."

 Student comments

“…I will use what I’ve learnt in my own profession…”
“…it helped me realise the complexity of working collaboratively with many stakeholders.”
“…an engaging way of learning…”
“…it highlighted the need to have an interdisciplinary approach…”
“…a challenge in understanding such a complex area.”
“…found it personally satisfying…”

‘Monica’: …I have learned the importance of a cohesive approach to management based upon landscape rather than cadastral boundaries…I have also learned that planning for bushfire risk has not been done as comprehensively as planning for coastal hazards (for example), and that will need to be rectified.
…Interdisciplinary learning and drawing connections between several different areas of expertise is key.

‘Spencer’: The process of producing this assignment has provided a template to follow for effective integrated and adaptive bushfire management….Managing the complexities of socio-ecological systems requires evolution of strategy over time not confined management prescripts at points in time.


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