Alpine study opens its research to community

An alpine paddock in the New South Wales Snowy Plains was the venue for the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre High Fire project open day on 20 March.
Around 80 people made the 4WD trek to the open-air venue to see and hear the ongoing progress of the research trial of fire and fuels in the high country with a particular emphasis on the combined effects of grazing and prescribed burning in the Snowy Plains.

HighFire open day at Snowy Plains with, from left, Prof Mark Adams, Dr Maria Taranto and Kevin O'Loughlin from the Bushfire CRC, federal parliamentarian Gary Nairn and land owners Barry Aitchison, Trish and Darvall DixonKevin O'Loughlin addresses the group

The guests were welcomed by property owners Barry Aitchison and Darvall Dixon and treated to a bush-style barbeque under the shade of a New South Wales Rural Fire Service marquee and surrounding snow gum woodlands.

The Federal Member for Eden-Monaro Gary Nairn, who was chairman of the Federal Parliamentary Inquiry into the 2003 bushfires that lead to the formation of the HighFire project, was pleased with the progress of the study.

“This fire research project is extremely important to the alpine region and indeed the entire nation. We know how vulnerable this region is and how seriously it can be affected by fires such as those we had in 2003,” Mr Nairn said.

“This field research has been under development for almost a year and it’s great that one of the major challenges – to find a suitable alpine site in the Snowy Plains area – has been solved through the generous cooperation of local landholders.

“While there are many different opinions, most would agree that we don’t know enough about the complex issue of bushfire and fire in relation to land management.”
David Cheal, the manager of Flora Ecology Research at the Arthur Rylah Institute in Melbourne also spoke of the importance of the research. High Fire project leader Mark Adams, project manager Maria Taranto and Bushfire CRC chief executive officer Kevin O’Loughlin gave a general overview of High Fire and other Bushfire CRC projects.

Later that evening around 25 people attended a Bushfire CRC regional community forum at the nearby Berridale Fire Control Centre. Bushfire CRC CEO Kevin O’Loughlin led a brief overview of all the research activities of the CRC with Mark Adams and Maria Taranto concentrating on the High Fire project. The audience responded with several questions related to bushfire issues in the high country.

HighFire Project Leader Prof Mark Adams talked about the purpose of the researchProject Manager Dr Maria Taranto, right, introduced the HighFire research team to the community