Understanding Disaster Risk, Chapter 4.3 - Risk management for forest fires at a world heritage site: Vulnerability and response capacity by Rapa Nui indigenous community

Elsevier, Understanding Disaster Risk, 2021, Pages 257-277
Constanza Espinoza-Valenzuela and Marcela Hurtado

This chapter analyzes the case of forest fires at a world heritage site: the Rapa Nui National Park. These fires have caused significant damage in recent years, affecting its valuable cultural heritage. Considering the insular condition of the site, the capacity to respond to an emergency was evaluated, headed by the new administration of the park: the Ma’u Henua indigenous group. The social, cultural, and environmental contexts were taken into consideration to evaluate their relationship and integrate them into the proposed mitigation strategies. The case of the devastating fire of September 2017, which affected about 300 ha, was analyzed. It was demonstrated that, despite the existing protocols, the community could not adequately face the emergency. Finally, strategies to reduce the risk of forest fires are proposed with an attempt to integrate aspects of the Rapanui culture through its customs and practices, as well as the new administration of the Rapa Nui National Park, validated by the local community.