Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Defensible Space Development: Exploring The Role of Arborists in Wildfire Risk Mitigation for Communities of the Pacific Northwest Public Deposited

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  • Every year in North America homes in the Wildland-Urban interface (WUI) are destroyed by wildfires. The creation of defensible space around homes in the WUI, through the management of vegetation can help mitigate some of the risk posed by fire. While many homeowners recognize the need for defensible space around their homes, oftentimes work to manage vegetation goes undone. Homeowners cite a variety of reasons for this including a lack of capacity, expertise and equipment necessary to perform defensible space development (DSD) work. Green industry professionals such as arborists have the potential to help homeowners in the development of defensible space around homes in the communities they serve. This research uses an exploratory quantitative approach to determine to what extent commercial arborists in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) (Alaska, BC, Washington, Idaho, Oregon) are currently working to develop defensible space in their community, how they see a need or value for wildfire risk mitigation in their community, and if training or education related to DSD work would be of value to their business. The results of 229 valid responses to an online survey distributed to 3994 e-mail addresses through the PNW International Society of Arboriculture (PNW-ISA) chapter listserv indicate that there is a small contingency of arborists working in the PNW who regularly work to mitigate wildfire risk in their community and are interested in continuing education and training related to DSD work. There is a nearly equal population of arborists who are not currently working to create defensible space around homes, but are none-the-less interested in learning more about wildfire risk mitigation and wildfire science. Professional organizations such as the PNW-ISA have an opportunity to fill an educational need for arborists working in the PNW by providing training and education related to wildfire risk mitigation which will support the growing need for defensible space development and help to protect homes from wildfire.
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