Fire in the Landscape

Introduction

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:

PROJECT STRUCTURE

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.

EDUCATION

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.

MAIN PARTNERS

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

Project Leader

Lead End User

Neil Cooper
Stakeholder Council, Lead End User

Projects in this group

Prescribed fires over large forest areas are essential to reduce the risk of large-scale bushfires, particularly in forests near population centres and important forest assets such as water catchments and commercial plantations. However, prescribed fires release emissions and reduce forest carbon stock. It has been...

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This study examined the eco-hydrology of mixed-species eucalypt forests as they regenerate after crown-removing fires, such as the 2009 Black Saturday fires. The investigation was based on broad management questions: How much water is used by trees after fire? How much water goes into catchments? Is the quality of...

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This research, undertaken by the University of Melbourne’s Dr Gary Sheridan and Dr Petter Nyman, studied how the reduction of vegetation caused by bushfires can lead to major soil erosion. Erosion is increased with increased fire severity, increased rainfall intensity and steeper slopes. It is also likely to...

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Reliable estimates of carbon emissions from planned and unplanned fires are required to assess the impact of smoke on the atmosphere.

This research by Dr Tina Bell and Dr Malcolm Possell, both from the University of Sydney, aimed to further develop knowledge of greenhouse gas emissions from fuel reduction...

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