Nov 2008

Created date

Saturday, November 1, 2008 - 10:00pm

  • Fifth year review
  • Stakeholder meeting
  • Bushfire book
  • Bushfire research fund
  • Carbon expo
  • Bushfires NT
  • Seasonal forecast
  • Student skills
  • Students online
  • Education survey
  • US review


Fifth year review

The 5th Year Independent Panel Review has concluded with a very positive assessment of the Bushfire CRC’s research quality, performance against agreed milestones and research adoption.


The Review was chaired by Steve Morton, Group Executive, Manufacturing, Materials and Minerals, CSIRO. He was assisted by panel members Bob Mitchell, an independent consultant and a former CEO of the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (WA), and Tim Vercoe, a forestry consultant and a former Director, Asset Protection, at CSIRO Forest Biosciences, General Manager with ENSIS, and an original member of the Bushfire CRC Board.

Utilising their knowledge and experience they provided incisive comments and several recommendations that will assist the Bushfire CRC in its final period.

The executive summary of the report concluded: “The Panel has been greatly impressed by the quality of science and by the rate of adoption of research results evident in the Bushfire CRC.”

The Panel was left with an extremely positive view of the Bushfire CRC, which is a tribute to the combined effort of all researchers, stakeholders and staff. The panel was clearly impressed with the achievements of the Bushfire CRC to date, the rate of adoption across the industry and the close association between AFAC and the Bushfire CRC.


Stakeholders AGM

Most partner organisations attended the Stakeholder Council AGM at the end of October to hear of the progress of the Bushfire CRC and to participate in the process of moving the Bushfire CRC forward for the coming year.

I spoke about the recommendations of the 5th Year Independent Panel Review and how the Bushfire CRC management proposed to respond. I also introduced the Bushfire Research Fund and proposed that agencies promote it widely within their communities.

Other speakers addressed the main themes of the day: Communicating the Research and Research Adoption into agencies.

Program B leader Professor Mark Adams, of the University of New South Wales, gave a progress report on the research into prescribed burning. He drew on the outputs from each of the research projects within the Program and showed how they informed agencies using fire as a management tool.

Dr Ray Canterford, Bushfire CRC Board member and Branch Head (Weather Services) at the Bureau of Meteorology, presented an overview of Bushfire CRC fire weather projects undertaken by his organisation. These included spatial fire weather forecast products, smoke modelling, seasonal bushfire outlooks, and climate change studies.

Damien Killalea, Tasmania Fire Service and Program C end user leader, provided an example of the positive impact of community education research within his organisation.

Robert Hogan, Executive Manager of Public Affairs at the CFA, described how Bushfire CRC research fitted in with his organisations overall knowledge management objectives. He showed how the research was presented on the CFA website and in its publications both to its own staff and volunteers and to the broader community and politicians.

Dr Geoff Cary, senior lecturer in fire science at the Australian National University, talked about the Fire Science course at ANU and how Bushfire CRC research was making a major input. This year, 11 Bushfire CRC researchers from Programs A, B and C contributed by lecturing on their individual research topics.

I was also pleased to receive from Geoff the final PhD thesis of Bushfire CRC student Adam Leavesley. Geoff was Adam’s supervisor at the ANU for his research into the response of birds to the fire regimes of Central Australia.

Presentations from the Stakeholder AGM are now online in the member’s area of the Bushfire CRC website:


[You will need to log in to see these pages.]


Bushfire book


Wildfire in the High Country has been launched before 60 invited guests including the Minister for Police and Emergency Services the Honorable Bob Cameron (pictured above right, middle) and members of the Bushfire CRC Board and Stakeholder Council. The launch took place at the Metropole Hotel in Melbourne on the evening before the Stakeholders meeting. The joint editors of the book, Robin Purdey and John Collyer, both spoke on how the book was helping their community to better understand and to recover from the bushfires of early 2007. The book is a text and photographic record of the fires in the southern high country of Victoria put together by the Mansfield Writers Group. The Bushfire CRC supported the publication along with the Country Fire Authority, and the Victorian departments of Sustainability and Environment and Human Services and attended a local launch of the book in Mansfield in July. The book can be ordered online through:



Bushfire Research Fund

The Bushfire Research Fund is now open for donations from the broader community for ongoing research. The Bushfire CRC has put the Fund on the Register of Environmental Organisations with the Australian Government’s Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Donations are tax deductible. A brochure was distributed at the Stakeholder’s Meeting. If you would like more brochures for your organisation contact the Bushfire CRC office.  For more information see:


Carbon Expo

The Bushfire CRC was invited by the CRC Association to participate in the Carbon Market Expo Australasia 2008 at the Gold Coast Convention Centre late last month. The Bushfire CRC was an exhibitor in the trade fair at the Expo along with three other CRCs with climate change related research. The Federal Minister for Climate Change and Water Senator Penny Wong spoke at the conference, which attracted 1200 delegates from a broad range of industries and government bodies. The conference provided an excellent opportunity for the Bushfire CRC to position itself in this new and growing field.


Bushfires NT

The North Australian Fire Manager's Forum, a twice yearly meeting for land and fire managers who have an interest in fire and for researchers, was held in Broome in October. Bushfire CRC Research Director Richard Thornton attended the meeting, which was jointly hosted by Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation and FESA. It also included representatives from NT Bushfires and Queensland Fire and Rescue Service and the shires of Wyndham and Derby. The meeting has traditionally been hosted by Tropical Savannas CRC, but is now looking at how it can become more self-sustaining. Key topics included a wrap up of the fire season, lessons learnt from an arson intervention project in WA, research into fire and biodiversity management across tenures in the Kimberley, and the carbon emissions abatement projects across the North of Australia. Also discussed were the management of fire across privately owned lands and engagement with the pastoralists in the Kimberley.

There was also a discussion on the rebid for the Bushfire CRC and how the work encompasses the whole of Australia.


Seasonal forecast

The Seasonal Bushfire Outlook was released nationally last month with a good response from all partners as well as a steady stream of media interest that still continues. The Outlook is a product of the Bushfire CRC supported Seasonal Bushfire Assessment workshops that have been held twice a year – in northern and southern Australia – for the last two years with Bushfire CRC member the Bureau of Meteorology as the central convenor. The Outlook presents the main conclusions for the upcoming fire seasons as decided by fire managers, severe weather meteorologists and climatologists from across Australia.


Student skills

Communication skills 1 July 2008 Communication skills 2 Sept 2008

Communication/media skills training courses were conducted in Melbourne and in Adelaide (after the conference) by an external trainer. About 20 of our postgraduate student participated in the sessions that gave practical advice on how to structure and deliver presentations and how to prepare for media interviews. The students gave very positive feedback on this training to improve their skills. The training was organised by Education Manger Jen Lumsden and Communications Manager David Bruce.


Students online

The project to film all post graduate students continues. A compilation DVD of the interviews completed so far was showcased at our booth in Adelaide. The filming has allowed our students to simply and succinctly talk about what their research is about and what it plans to achieve. Once all the students are filmed stakeholders will be given the complete DVD. The footage is also able to be viewed on the individual student web pages on the Bushfire CRC website and on the Bushfire CRC You Tube channel. The current edition of Fire Australia also carries a feature on the project.


Education survey

The recent Cutler report, ‘Venturous Australia – building strength in innovation’ identified an organisation’s capacity to adopt new information as key to building innovation.  To that end the Bushfire CRC has consulted with the industry to build the role of the education program to complement research adoption. An online survey was conducted to gauge how agencies perceive their capacity to adopt new information, to identify learning and development initiatives that would be of most benefit to agencies and to determine how resources can be prioritised to meet the need. A summary of the results was presented at the Stakeholders meeting.


US review

Finally, I have been invited by the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) to the United States next week. The JFSP was created in 1998 as an interagency research body as a partnership of the US departments of Interior and Agriculture.  It is completing its 10th year of operation and I have been invited to join a panel for an independent review of its research in a similar manner to the Bushfire CRC’s 5th Year Independent Panel Review.  The results of the JFSP Review will help shape the research programs to meet future challenges and deliver fire science to the US.

Gary Morgan
Bushfire CRC