This paper examines landscape preferences of residents in amenity-rich bushfire-prone landscapes in New South Wales, Australia. Insights are provided into vegetation preferences in areas where properties neighbor large areas of native vegetation, such as national parks, or exist within a matrix of cleared and vegetated private and public land. In such areas, managing fuel loads in the proximity of houses is likely to reduce the risk of house loss and damage. Preferences for vegetation appearance and structure were related to varying fuel loads, particularly the density of understorey vegetation and larger trees. The study adopted a qualitative visual research approach, which used ranking and photo-elicitation as part of a broader interview. A visual approach aids in focusing on outcomes of fuel management interventions, for example, by using the same photo scenes to firstly derive residents' perceptions of amenity and secondly, residents' perceptions of bushfire risk. The results are consistent with existing research on landscape preferences; residents tend to prefer relatively open woodland or forest landscapes with good visual and physical access but with elements that provoke their interest. Overall, residents' landscape preferences were found to be consistent with vegetation management that reduces bushfire risk to houses. The terms in which preferences were expressed provide scope for agency engagement with residents in order to facilitate management that meets amenity and hazard reduction goals on private land.
Gill, N., Dun, O., Brennan-Horley, C. & Eriksen, C. (2015). Landscape preferences, amenity, and bushfire risk in New South Wales, Australia. Environmental Management (New York): an international journal for decision-makers, scientists and environmental auditors, 56 (3), 738-753.