Fire management research to reduce the bushfire risk

Issued by NSW Department of Environment and Conservation

The behaviour of fires in different terrain, climate, and vegetation type will be the focus of research aiming to test fire management practices in different landscapes.

The research will be funded under the new Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre, launched today, and will involve scientists from the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC)*, Australian National University and the Australian Defence Force Academy at the University of New South Wales. 

DEC fire ecologist Dr Ross Bradstock said the incidence and spread of major fires can be affected by a range of factors.

“Our research will use historical information, case studies, remote sensing and satellite imaging. We’ll look at the impact of weather, terrain, vegetation, fuel loads and fire management strategies on the, incidence, intensity and spread of recent major fire events,” Dr Bradstock said.

“We will also focus on long-term, broad-scale effects of repeated fires on biodiversity through a series of case studies in different ecosystems.

“This information will be compared to new technology computer modelling of the same incidents to ensure the models match the reality.

“Once we have established that the models are valid we can use computer-based experiments to compare the performance of alternative management scenarios.”

Dr Bradstock said this will help ensure that fire agencies and land managers are using  resources in the most effective way to achieve protection of people and property as well as  conservation of biodiversity. He anticipates that different management solutions will be required to suit the wide range of local environmental conditions that affect bushfires across NSW.

“We will be able to example test the long term effectiveness of both of different hazard reduction regimes as well as suppression techniques in achieving fire management objectives.

“We may find our resources are best dedicated to different mixtures of fire prevention and suppression in a differing types of landscapes according to local context and conditions.

“Such detailed research of this kind has never been undertaken before and will boost our effectiveness in bushfire management across the state and the nation into the future.”

“Our overall aim is to define the most sustainable fire management practices which can reduce the risks of bushfire to the community as well as protect important biodiversity.

“Currently this problem remains unsolved.” he said.

Media contact: Olivia Greentree 02 9995 5259

*NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is now part of the Department of Environment and Conservation.

Release date

Tue, 09/12/2003