Congratulations to Dr. Bonita McFarlane who was named the 2013 Outstanding Association Editor for the International Journal of Wildland Fire (IJWF).
Dr. McFarlane is currently Leader of Fire Social Science at Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service in Edmonton, Alberta. Her research is aimed at informing policy and improving communications and focuses on perceptions of risk associated with natural disturbance, impact of natural disturbance on forest recreation, factors influencing wildfire mitigation and preparedness at the wildland-urban interface, and public perceptions of wildfire management. Some of her recent activities include an international collaboration with social scientists in Canada, the US and Australia on citizen-agency trust in wildfire management and identifying social impacts and socially acceptable mitigation and adaptation strategies for communities affected by the mountain pine beetle (MPB) in western Canada. Dr. McFarlane has pioneered much of the social research on MPB in Canada including public and expert perceptions of MPB risks, awareness of MPB, preferences for managing the beetle among recreation users and local citizens affected by MPB, and developing statistical models of public perceptions of risk and support for MPB controls.
Dr. McFarlane joined the Canadian Forest Service in 1991. She has an educational background in the biological sciences and forest science. Her earlier research focused on the understanding and incorporation of non-timber values in sustainable forest management and included research on public values and attitudes, camping, bird watching, hunting, and human dimensions of grizzly bear management and forest biodiversity. She also spent some time with the Parks Canada Agency providing guidance for social science research on visitor management issues in Canada’s national parks.
Dr. McFarlane was instrumental in establishing a social science research group within the Canadian Forest Service wildfire research program aimed at addressing the interplay between society and wildfire management. In 2011, Dr. McFarlane served on the Flat Top Wildfire Complex Review Committee to develop recommendations to improve wildfire management in Alberta following wildfires that devastated the Town of Slave Lake and nearby communities.
Dr. McFarlane is also an Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology at the University of Alberta and is an Honorary Research Associate in the Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management at the University of New Brunswick. Her association with universities includes co-supervising graduate students, serving on graduate student committees and guest lecturing in several courses.
Dr. McFarlane has been awarded a Canadian Forest Service Team Achievement Merit Award for creativity and innovation in the Foothills Model Forest Social Science Research partnership, a Canadian Forest Service Merit Award for contributions to the Canadian Wildland Fire Strategy, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for leadership and vision in fire social science research at Natural Resources Canada. She is a Member of the Board of Directors of Partners in Protection, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and providing information that will reduce the risk of wildfire losses at the wildland-urban interface. She has authored about 50 refereed publications, two book chapters and numerous reports.