VGI and bushfire preparation in Tasmania – Part 3

In this short post, the third in a series around my PhD fieldwork in Tasmania, I will briefly provide comment on the end of the trip and the last three communities I visited. In Tasmania I was working in collaboration with the Tasmania Fire Service to visit a number of at-risk communities and survey residents about their bushfire preparation, their use of social media and Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) technologies, and how they may or may not like to use these technologies for future fire preparations. The aim was to gain insight into the potential role of VGI for fostering community engagement and building individual resilience through connectedness in wildfire preparations, and to build an evidence base for further more detailed work work particular communities in this space. The survey results are still being returned, and my next task is to start collating results. I will endeavour to discuss some of the analyses here in the coming months.
Gladstone – a small rural town in the North East of the state.  The population here is small, and there is only one local store.  It was difficult to get a good gauge of bushfire preparation here as there really weren’t many people around at the time of day I visited. I could only assume most people farm or work elsewhere. But the fire risk was clear, with the area very dry and bushland close to the perimeter of the township on all sides.
In Hadspen, a community south west of Launceston in northern Tasmania, flammable bushland approaches very closely to the township surrounds. This image was taken at the local sports and recreation grounds, which constitutes a Nearby Safer Place
These last two images both show a view across to Blackstone Heights, a community in broader Launceston characterized by numerous properties at risk positioned on slopes surrounded tightly by bush.

VGI and bushfire preparation in Tasmania – Part 2

This post continues from my previous regarding my PhD research and associated fieldwork in Tasmania where I’m looking at bushfire preparation and the potential role of volunteered geographic information. As I’m travelling around the state talking with residents in local communities and distributing questionnaires, I’m gaining a lot of insight into many issues around bushfire management and the use of various technologies, and I’ll post about some of these in the future when I’ve begun collating results. In doing this I’ve been lucky to spend time in some beautiful Australian places and the purpose of this post is to share some more pictures from my journey around the state so far.
Swansea – Dolphin Sands is a coastal area in the east coast town of Swansea. Its residents enjoy a quiet living environment surrounded by bush land a stone’s throw away from the beach. But they’re also aware of the persistent bushfire risk in the area. There is a small but active bushfire awareness group in this one-road-in community and custom made signs like the one in this picture installed by the group are a constant reminder of the fire risk in the area.

 

Coles Bay – A popular tourist destination and this beach at Swanwick shows a number of properties, many of which are holiday homes or part time residents, placed high in the hills surrounded by trees and bush. 
Coles Bay – Freycinet National Park is one of Tasmania’s most rugged and most beautiful coastal regions, and Wineglass Bay is a key feature.

 

Bicheno – Residents of this coastal town will remember fires in the area as recent as January 2013.
St Helens – This is a place with high bushfire risk in the hilly areas that back onto the bush which look over the main town surrounding Georges Bay.
St Helens – Binalong Bay beach is a truly gorgeous spot with clean white sands and paradise blue waters.
Stieglitz – This boat ramp and adjacent cleared area constitutes a Nearby Safer Place (NSP) in the community. NSPs are outlined in the Tasmania Fire ServiceCommunity Protection Plans and are suggested places of last resort that may be ‘safer’ to be during a bushfire event rather than staying at one’s home. Of course the only real ‘safe’ option would be to be prepared and leave the area early well in advance of the fire arriving, but that may not always be the case and thus NSPs are important.