Australian bushfires and the future of urban settlements

The Australian fires last year have challenged the way we plan settlements. With appropriate support the rebuilding of the peri urban areas and coastal settlements could become a model for climate resilient development.

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In our article we discuss two scenarios: business as usual (same again) or bouncing forward working with nature  – building more resilient and adaptable futures with local communities.

See Apocalypse Now: Australian Bushfires and the Future of Urban Settlements by Barbara Norman, Peter Newman, Will Steffen (February 2021)
https://www.nature.com/articles/s42949-020-00013-7

We conclude that there are key steps to ‘bouncing forward’ 

i.    Transitioning to renewable energy in regional and smaller urban centres, including new villages. 

ii.    Climate responsive urban design and building regulations through retrofitting programs and consolidation of settlements. 

iii.    Reviewing high climate risk areas, especially peri-urban homes in fire-dependent forests, working with affected communities to identify real options to retreat and rebuild. 

iv.    Co- design climate sensitive urban scenarios with communities - climate change adaption, climate sensitive urban design, heat reduction though green urban spaces 

v.    Investment in implementing climate responsive cities including continuous review of urban planning processes to embed action on climate change (mitigation and adaptation) 

Link to related article in The Conversation (to be released 23 Feb 7pm UTC)

https://theconversation.com/australian-bushfires-and-the-future-of-urban-settlements-planning-for-climate-risks-155044 

Barbara Norman

Professor Urban & Regional Planning , University of Canberra