This research project is focusing on key issues for land management in coming decades – reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires in forests whilst delivering more high quality water and an improved carbon balance. Carbon storage and delivery of water are clearly recognised as economically important ecosystem services and both are significant areas of research for Australian forests.
Most of the water supplied to major cities is sourced from high-rainfall forested catchments. Fire directly and indirectly affects water yield and, after an initial increase, may be reduced by up to 50% of pre-fire levels for several decades It has been estimated that each of the recent landscape-scale fires in 2003 and 2006-7 in southern Australia released an amount of CO2 equivalent to nearly 50% of the net annual emissions for 2006.
It is imperative to understand the impact of fire management practices on these two important ecosystem services.
Hear Lead End User, Neil Cooper, talk about the scope of this suite of projects:
The research is investigating above - and below ground carbon and water quality and quantity in four research projects. Wherever possible the projects use common research sites and share students and data to strengthen outcomes.
This research project will support up to six PhD and MSc students. Research will be incorporated into undergraduate and postgraduate courses presented by both participating universities.
Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, Parks Victoria, Country Fire Authority, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, State Forests NSW, NSW Rural Fire Service, CSIRO (National Carbon Accounting System), Murray-Darling Basin Authority, ActewAGL
Fires and hydrology of north eastern mixed-species forests
In 2009 the fires in Victoria mainly burnt in mixed-species foothill forests. This forest type makes up much of the watersheds for catchments for Victoria and New South Wales and can be quite diverse, containing up to 10 species...
Fire poses an immediate threat to the water supplies of towns and cities because the key water treatment facilities in south east Australia (and often in other parts of Australia) are designed to treat relatively clean water from unburnt forested catchments.
Fires directly impact the carbon balance of forests through emissions of carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other greenhouse gases (GHG) formed during combustion of vegetation and litter. We currently lack all but the most rudimentary knowledge of the direct effects of fuel reduction fires or...