Roles of Social Work in Policy Development

Recently, wildfire policy in the United States has been modified severally. This comes as a result of continued forest outbreaks and increased severity of the fires. According to statistics, approximately 2.5 million hectares of land burned each year 1988, 1996, 2002, and 2004. Today, the costs of managing the fires have escalated, threats to firefighter safety have risen, the detrimental impact on the environment have multiplied.   In the past where wildfire policy was based on suppression, recent times have seen measures emphasizing the reduction of hazardous fuels, community assistance, and ecosystem restoration(McCaffrey, 2015). The efforts are implemented alongside fire suppression and protection approaches. The directions by the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) have made significant efforts, but there is still much to be done. The policy exists on paper and should be put into practice to control wildfire. The government needs to develop long term strategies whose key elements should focus on research to enhance understanding of fires and their ecology, creating awareness on causes of wildfires, engaging local communities in implementation, and providing managers with adequate resources to ensure integrated fire management programs (McCaffrey, 2015). Other sustainable solutions may include establishing reliable fire monitoring systems and discouraging the manipulation of efficient and reliable regimes.

Social workers have a significant role in the implementation of wildfire policy. As professionals, they may write to the relevant government agencies and offer propositions into ways in measures that they believe will help control wildfires (Spies, Scheller, & Bolte, 2018). At the community level, social workers can help to create awareness and educate the community on the causes of fire and how to avoid them. They may also mediate between the government and individuals encroaching into wildland to be offered alternative settlements since research indicates that human recklessness causes most fires.    

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McCaffrey, S. (2015). Community wildfire preparedness: a global state-of-the-knowledge summary of social science research. Current Forestry Reports, 1(2), 81-90.Spies, T., Scheller, R., & Bolte, J. (2018). Adaptation in fire-prone landscapes: interactions of policies, management, wildfire, and social networks in Oregon, USA. Ecology and Society2

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