Scion rural fire researchers seek to learn the lessons from major fires in New Zealand, so similar events can be avoided and communities can build resilience.

Community recovery from recent and significant wildfires (e.g., Blenheim and Alexandra) will be examined by Scion to identify the full extent of the social, psychological and economic impacts of fire.

The aims of our research are to:

  • Evaluate community resilience and recovery mechanisms following major fire events.
  • Evaluate relevant national and international research results and social recovery practices following wildfires and other natural disasters.
  • Formulate recommendations on best practices to lessen the social impact and improve the recovery process following significant wildfires in New Zealand.

Current and recent research in this area includes:

  • Literature Reviews – of national and international literature on community resilience and recovery practices following wildfires and other natural disasters.
  • Lessons Learned Case Studies – use of case studies to document lessons learned, to compare and contrast community recovery mechanisms, and to identify factors affecting community resilience to wildfire events. Two case studies are underway, and provide a comparison of community recovery and resilience following a rural/urban interface wildfire (West Melton) and a more rural wildfire (Mt Somers) that occurred around the same time (summer 2003/04).
  • Review of Recovery Plans – review of current recovery practices for wildfires and other natural hazards in New Zealand through surveys of the content of hazard management plans used by fire and emergency management organisations. These findings will provide a baseline for further research into the development of best-practice guidelines for improved wildfire recovery methods.