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Article

Reframing Wildfire Simulations for Understanding Complex Human–Landscape Interactions in Cross-Cultural Contexts: A Case Study from Northern Australia

1
Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia
2
Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia
3
Department of Geography, University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, AB T1H 3M4, Canada
4
Alberta Energy Regulator, 4999-98 Avenue, Edmonton, AB T6B 2X3, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Fantina Tedim, Vittorio Leone and Carmen Vázquez-Varela
Received: 18 June 2021 / Revised: 10 August 2021 / Accepted: 10 August 2021 / Published: 13 August 2021
An increase in the frequency of severe fire events, as well as a growing interest in wildfire mitigation strategies, has created a demand for skilled managers of landscape fire and a better community understanding of fire behaviour. While on-ground experience is essential, there is potential to substantially enhance training and community engagement with explanatory simulations. Through this work, we explore landscape fire behaviour as a complex system where understanding key behaviour characteristics is often more important and achievable than prediction. It is argued that this approach has particular value in Northern Australia, where fires burn across vast and sparsely inhabited landscapes that are largely under Indigenous ownership. Land and fire management in such complex cross-cultural contexts requires combining traditional and local knowledge with science and technology to achieve the best outcomes. We describe the workings of the model, a stochastic cellular automata fire behaviour simulation, developed through a participatory modelling approach for Northern Australia; the outputs generated; and a range of operational applications. We found that simulation assisted training and engagement through the development of an understanding of fire dynamics through visualisation, underpinned by landscape data sets, and engaging a culturally diverse set of land managers in discussions of fire management. We conclude that there is scope for a broader use of explanatory fire simulations to support development of shared understandings of fire management objectives. View Full-Text
Keywords: fire spread simulation; savanna landscapes; modelling; Indigenous knowledge fire spread simulation; savanna landscapes; modelling; Indigenous knowledge
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MDPI and ACS Style

Fisher, R.; Heckbert, S.; Garnett, S. Reframing Wildfire Simulations for Understanding Complex Human–Landscape Interactions in Cross-Cultural Contexts: A Case Study from Northern Australia. Fire 2021, 4, 46. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire4030046

AMA Style

Fisher R, Heckbert S, Garnett S. Reframing Wildfire Simulations for Understanding Complex Human–Landscape Interactions in Cross-Cultural Contexts: A Case Study from Northern Australia. Fire. 2021; 4(3):46. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire4030046

Chicago/Turabian Style

Fisher, Rohan, Scott Heckbert, and Stephen Garnett. 2021. "Reframing Wildfire Simulations for Understanding Complex Human–Landscape Interactions in Cross-Cultural Contexts: A Case Study from Northern Australia" Fire 4, no. 3: 46. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire4030046

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