Berke to receive best paper award from JAPA

Dr. Phil Berke, a Principal Investigator (PI) for the Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence (CRC) and a professor at Texas A&M University, will be honored with his co-authors with an award for a paper assessing a “resilience scorecard” for communities.

Berke is first author of “Evaluation of Networks of Plans and Vulnerability to Hazards and Climate Change: A Resilience Scorecard,” which was recently named Best Paper in Vol. 81, 2015 of the Journal of the American Planning Association. He and co-authors Galen Newman, Jaekyung Lee, Tabitha Combs, Carl Kolosna, and David Salvesen will be presented with the award and a cash prize at the Annual American Planning Association Meeting in Phoenix from April 2-5.  Dr. Salvesen, Deputy Director for the Center for Sustainable Community Design and Lecturer at the City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was also PI for the Coastal Hazards Center of Excellence along with Dr. Berke.

“My co-authors and I are honored,” Berke said. “JAPA is widely considered to be the top research outlet in the urban planning field.

“The impact of our work should be widespread, as JAPA prioritizes high-quality research that is useful to practicing planners, policymakers, scholars and the public.”

In the article, the authors argue that land use planning is key to mitigating natural hazards and the effects of climate change. But most communities adopt multiple plans that differentially address key facets of mitigating natural hazards; how well these plans are integrated and consistently address the same issues and the same geographic areas can significantly impact the future vulnerability of the community to a variety of natural disasters. The work was done as part of a project with the Coastal Hazards Center.

To help communities integrate their local plans the authors developed a resilience scorecard which first evaluates the degree to which the network of local plans in any community targets areas most prone to hazards; the scorecard then evaluated how well local plans are coordinated in their efforts to address hazards in those areas. The authors tested the resilience scorecard in Washington, N.C., a community vulnerable to coastal floods and projected sea level rise. They found that local plans are not fully consistent and do not always address the areas in a community most vulnerable to floods or sea level risks; moreover, some plans actually increase vulnerability to hazards.

To learn more about Dr. Berke’s current project for the Coastal Resilience Center, see http://coastalresiliencecenter.unc.edu/crc-projects/phil-berke.