Swiss deliberative planning in peri-urban areas at risk

Mrs Annette Bardsley1

1The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia


Residents living on the fringe of Australian cities face increasing levels of environmental risk, especially due to wildfires. That situation is challenging planners to engage with resident populations to meet their local needs. It is also very difficult to achieve sustainable outcomes because local concerns about hazards can lead to a discounting of environmental values. Switzerland has utilised its highly deliberative political system to understand residents’ expectations of planning at local and national levels. A residents’ survey was undertaken in settlements located on the steep, wooded slopes surrounding Locarno in Canton Ticino to analyse perceptions of spatial planning in relation to environmental values and risks. Apart from the formal process of voting, few respondents engaged with planning processes and did not consider that they had a strong influence over decisions. Nevertheless, local residents are very familiar with local hazards such as rockfalls, landslides and wildfires and their potential impacts, and as they are included in the process of management, are very confident in the work of their planners and first-responders to manage the environmental risk. The processes of deliberation provides the social room for understanding to develop that in turn generates confidence in the authorities’ management of environmental risk.


Annette Bardsley, BA (Hons) Geography & PGDipEd, is completing her PhD entitled ‘Perceptions of Wildfire Risk and Planning in Peri-Urban Adelaide, Australia and in Locarno, Switzerland’, in Geography Environment and Population (GEP), at the University of Adelaide. Annette has worked in conservation planning in Switzerland and in education in Australia.


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