NZ joining new Australian bushfire research effort

New Zealand is set to contribute to a major Australasian bushfire research initiative being launched today. The new Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) brings together research organisations, government agencies, and university and industry partners in a coordinated approach to bushfire research. Based in Melbourne, the Bushfire CRC will have funding of over $110M provided by the Australian government and CRC participants. New Zealand is to participate in the research cooperative through the Rural Fire Research programme, based at Forest Research in Christchurch.

While New Zealand does not have the same level of bushfire risk as parts of Australia, fire scientist Grant Pearce said that it does have expertise in several key research areas of interest within the CRC. Over the past 10 years, the research programme has collected information from more than 100 experimental burning trials and 30 wildfire events in an effort to model fire behaviour in a range of different vegetation types. New Zealand will also be expected to lead research into assessment of the seasonal die-off of grass fuels.

Itself a national collaborative, the New Zealand fire research project receives funding from the Fire Service Commission, Forest Owners Association, Department of Conservation, Defence Force and territorial authorities. National Rural Fire Officer, Murray Dudfield, said that New Zealand stands to gain significantly through participation in the Australian-led research. “There will be numerous benefits for both the NZ research programme and wider community as a result of access to the outcomes from the wider CRC research programme”.

The main objective of the research programme is to develop the New Zealand fire danger rating system as a decision support tool for fire managers. This will result in more effective fire prevention, preparedness and control of rural fires.

For more information:

Murray Dudfield, National Rural Fire Officer, National Rural Fire Authority, Ph: 021-662 133

Grant Pearce, Fire Research Scientist, Forest Research, Ph: 0274-712 840