Participatory modelling of fire prevention and urbanisation in southern France: from coconstructing to playing with the model

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Etienne, Michel; Bourgeois, M.; Souchère, V.
participatory modelling; agent-based modelling; role playing game; fire prevention; urban development; cropland abandonment
artifact description
In 2006, officers from the Nîmes Métropole urban community and from the Agriculture and Forestry Service decided to apply a participatory modelling process to sensitise the representatives of the community to fire prevention issues at the interface between natural areas and urban zones. The approach went through 3 phases. The first consisted of co-constructing, according to the ARDI method, a conceptual model of the current situation, in a group of technicians and local policy makers. The process was facilitated by a researcher used to the companion modelling approach and in charge of encouraging the participants to follow precisely the 4 steps of the participatory modelling process. The second phase was to implement the conceptual model into an agent-based model. The last was devoted to playing with the model during series of role-playing game (RPG) sessions set-up to stimulate discussions between the representatives of the community, urban developers and local policy makers. After a short description of the time schedule of the participatory process, the agent-based model and the corresponding RPG set up are briefly described. Specific skills developed during the co-construction stage and the way the model was progressively adopted by the participants are discussed. The function of the model during the role-playing game phase is analysed and its capacity to enhance discussions on the interactions between forest fire prevention, cropland abandonment and urban development is discussed. Particularly, the way players behave during the game and argue during the debriefing of the RPG session is described and the way the impacts of the participatory modelling exercise were evaluated is described.