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School of Environment and Natural Resources


How communities work across boundaries to address wildfire

Oct. 6, 2020
Faculty receive NSF funding to understand how local communities address the threats associated with wildfire.

To understand how local communities address the threats associated with wildfire, faculty in the School of Environment and Natural Resources will evaluate how wildfire planning processes shape social interaction and the implementation of risk management measures thanks to new funding from the National Science Foundation.

Matthew Hamilton, assistant professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources will lead the 3-year collaborative project, which brings together researchers from Colorado State University, the University of Michigan, and Portland State University. Eric Toman, an associate professor also with the school is a co-investigator on the project. The school is in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

“Growing wildfire risk highlights the need for large-scale fire and forest management. But at the same time, local collaborative decision-making is crucial because communities are often most directly affected by fires,” said Hamilton, faculty lead on the project. “This project connects these two scales by improving understanding of how innovative management approaches spread across fire-prone landscapes, and how local people coordinate to address shared fire risk within socially and ecologically diverse landscapes.”

About the investigators

Matthew HamiltonDr. Hamilton’s research focuses on climate change adaptation, particularly in the context of wildfire and its uniqueness among other climate-related hazards. A major component of Hamilton’s research examines how stakeholders (e.g., governments, advocacy organizations, corporations) collaborate to develop solutions for forest and fire management.

Eric Toman
Dr. Toman’s research is focused on developing a better understanding of the social dimensions of coupled human and natural systems. Toman uses theory and methods from sociology and social-psychology to examine the factors that influence the adoption of behaviors that enable adaptation to changing environmental conditions.