New bushfire research heats up
Federal Science Minister Peter McGauran has today announced new Commonwealth Government funding of $25 million for a Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). Mr McGauran announced the funding while visiting the Sydney headquarters of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.
Mr McGauran said the Bushfire CRC would bring together experts from State based fire authorities including the NSW Rural Fire Service, the CSIRO, universities, the Bureau of Meteorology and several other organisations from around Australia to form a vital ‘fighting force’ to increase understanding of bushfires and how to control them.
“This is the first time that our best researchers and those who undertake the ‘on the ground’ fire fighting have come together in a national effort to deal with bushfires,” Mr McGauran said.
“By bringing together all stakeholders, I am confident the new CRC will provide research that can quickly be applied to assist in the prevention and fighting of bushfires.
“I also welcome international experts in joining our efforts to minimise the devastating effect of bushfires.”
The Minister said the coordinated approach of the CRC would assist in ensuring the results of bushfire research were quickly passed on to Australia’s fire agencies, land managers and communities.
“The vital results of this research will help all Australians more effectively prepare for and control bushfires and minimise their destructive impact on people, property and the economy.”
The Bushfire CRC will begin its work in July 2003 for a seven year period, and have resources totalling some $110 million, made up of contributions from the Commonwealth Government and all other CRC participants (see attached for further details).
The Bushfire CRC is one of 30 to be funded under the Commonwealth Government’s record $478.5 million 2002 CRC selection round. CRCs bring together key universities, research organisations, government agencies and industries to turn Australian ideas into innovations to support the nation’s economic and social development. The CRC Programme has been expanded under the Government’s Backing Australia’s Ability initiative.
For further information: Jodie Forbes (Mr McGauran’s Office) 0419 622 915
Background on the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre
Following the devastating 2001 Christmas bushfires in New South Wales, a Bushfire Research Workshop was convened by the Minister for Science, the Hon Peter McGauran, where it was agreed there was a need for a co-ordinated approach to bushfire research in Australia.
A proposal for the Bushfire CRC was then coordinated by the Australasian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC).
The Bushfire CRC aims to manage the bushfire risk to the community in an economically and ecologically sustainable manner and to increase the self-sufficiency of communities in managing the risks from bushfires.
The Bushfire CRC aims to develop a comprehensive and overarching understanding of the behaviour and danger of bushfires, given local differences in vegetation, land management and weather. The research will have application in both the biophysical context (e.g. control of air quality, maintenance of biodiversity, prescribed burning) and the social context (e.g. enhancing the safety of people and buildings during bushfires). The outcomes of the research will be used to develop local management arrangements (e.g. prevention and suppression strategies, prescribed fuel reduction regimes) and enhance local community self-sufficiency.
Due to the critical relationship between researchers and end users, the Bushfire CRC will support local exchange programs whereby researchers can participate in the activities of land managers and emergency services for limited periods (and in necessarily limited roles). Similarly, members of the user agencies will be invited to attend open days and demonstration field sites to increase exposure to and understanding of relevant research activities.
Over the life of the Bushfire CRC it is expected that some 20-40 postgraduate students will gain higher degrees in the field of fire research.
An Executive Board, under the chairmanship of Mr Ian McDougall (Commissioner, NSW Fire Brigades) will govern the Bushfire CRC. The majority of members of the Board will be end users representing stakeholder interests.
The Executive Board will be accountable to a council representing stakeholders.
2002 CRC funding
The Commonwealth Government will commit $24.8 million to the Bushfire CRC over its seven year life. An additional $87 million will be contributed by the participants in the CRC.
Bushfire CRC Participants
Building Construction & Engineering
Forestry & Forest Products
Sustainable Ecosystems NT
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AUSTRALIA
AUSTRALIAN BUILDING CODES BOARD
BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY
FOREST RESEARCH NEW ZEALAND
WA DEPT OF CONSERVATION & LAND MANAGEMENT
VICTORIAN COUNTRY FIRE AUTHORITY
NSW RURAL FIRE AUTHORITY
NSW FIRE BRIGADES
WA FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICE
VIC DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE ENVIRONMENT
NSW NATIONAL PARKS & WILDLIFE SERVICE
QUEENSLAND FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE
THE ACT DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND COMMUNITY SAFETY
QUEENSLAND DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY INDUSTRY
METROPOLITAN FIRE & EMERGENCY SERVICES BOARD
TASMANIA DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY INDUSTRIES, WATER AND ENVIRONMENT
Park and Wildlife Service
A.C.T. EMERGENCY SERVICES BUREAU
TASMANIA FIRE SERVICE
COUNTRY FIRE SERVICES OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA
QUEENSLAND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
STATE FOREST OF NSW
FOREST SCIENCE CENTRE
THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE
THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES ADFA
THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY
School of Resources, Environment and Society
THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY
LA TROBE UNIVERSITY
ROYAL MELBOURNE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
For more information: Jodie Forbes (Mr McGauran’s Office) 0419 622 915