In New Zealand, fire has long been used as a tool to reduce pests and disease, regenerate land and remove unwanted vegetation. However, its continued use could be under threat due to public perceptions around risks from burns getting out of control, and impacts of smoke pollution and ecological damage.
In an effort to better understand the attitudes of rural practitioners and residents toward use of fire as a land management tool in New Zealand, Scion’s Rural Fire Research team conducted a national survey. A paper describing the findings was recently published in the international journal, Rangeland Ecology & Management.
With almost 700 responses from three audiences (rural land managers, rural populace, and rural fire personnel), the survey identified differing perceptions about the suitability of prescribed fire use by land-based sectors. Five constructs explained the attitudes toward use of fire as a land management tool: benefits of fire use, the tradition of fire as a tool, regulations and liabilities, smoke impacts from fire, and the risks from knowledge loss and changing land use. Other factors influencing attitude toward the use of fire included gender, current use of fire, and size of land area managed.
The paper can be viewed at the following link:
Bayne et al. (2019). Fire as a land management tool: rural sector perceptions of burn-off
practice in New Zealand. Rangeland Ecology & Management 72(3): 523-532.