Local Conditions and the Quality of Expert Networks: A Case Study of Avalanche Risk Prevention Practices

Renate Renner and Gerhard Lieb

As natural hazards and risk always represent an interaction of natural and social systems, avalanche risk prevention is especially important in heavily-touristed alpine regions. This research compares the local risk prevention practices of Nordkette, Tirol and Planneralm, Styria by considering the influence of local conditions and the quality of expert networks. This in-depth analysis demonstrates that local conditions influence the intensity and frequency of necessary prevention measurements and the level of pressure on the decision makers. Local conditions influence the level of professionalization, the incorporation of systematic data analysis and personnel competence. This study aligns with general findings about the role of social capital, emphasizing that trust within the avalanche commission team and between the avalanche commission and external experts increases the quality of local risk prevention. Although the study provides important insight into the scope of risk prevention practices, further research is necessary to understand how coping capacity could be improved through optimizing the use of social networks.

2016/1 121-130