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P. Salvati; C. Bianchi; F. Fiorucci; P. Giostrella; I. Marchesini; F. Guzzetti (2014)
Publisher: Copernicus Publications
Journal: Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences Discussions
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: QE1-996.5, Geology
Inundations and landslides are widespread phenomena in Italy, where they cause severe damage and pose a threat to the population. Little is known on the perception of the population of landslides and floods. This is surprising, as an accurate perception is important for the successful implementation of many risk reduction or adaptation strategies. In an attempt to fill this gap, we have conducted two national surveys to measure the perception of landslide and flood risk of the population of Italy. The surveys were executed in 2012 and 2013, performing for each survey approximately 3100 computer assisted telephone interviews. The samples of the interviewees were statistically representative for a national scale quantitative assessment. The interviewees were asked questions designed to obtain information on their: (i) perception of natural, environmental, and technological risks, (ii) direct experience or general knowledge on the occurrence of landslides and floods in their municipality, (iii) perception of the possible threat posed by landslides and floods to their safety, (iv) general knowledge on the number of victims caused by landslides or floods, and on (v) the factors that they considered important to control landslide and flood risks in Italy. The surveys revealed that the population of Italy fears technological risks more than natural risks. Of the natural risks, earthquakes were considered more dangerous than floods, landslides, and volcanic eruptions. Examination of the temporal and geographical distribution of the responses revealed that the occurrence of recent damaging events influenced risk perception locally, and that the perception persisted longer for earthquakes and decreased more rapidly for landslides and floods. We justify the differentiation with the diverse consequences of the risks. The interviewees considered inappropriate land management the main cause of landslide and flood risk, followed by illegal construction, abandonment of the territory, and climate change. Comparison of the risk perception with actual measures of landslide and flood risk, including the number of fatal events, the number of fatalities, and the mortality rates, revealed that in most of the Italian regions the perception of the threat did not match the long-term risk posed by landslides and floods to the population. This outcome points to the need to fostering the understanding of the population of landslide and flood hazards and risks in Italy.
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