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Australia’s tropical savannas are extremely fire-prone – approximately 20% of the savanna region (which covers a quarter of Australia) is currently burnt each year. Annual fire occurrence is particularly frequent across the higher rainfall (more than 1000mm) far northern regions, mostly by severe late dry season fires. The current pattern of late dry season fires impacts on a broad range issues, including community safety and health, production (e.g. pastoral enterprise) and environmental (e.g. soil erosion, stream health, biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions) values.

This project is:

• Describing environmental risks and providing mapping tools for remote community planning purposes.

• Quantifying the risks posed by flammable exotic grasses (e.g. gamba and mission grasses)

• Exploring fire management challenges in the Gulf of Carpentaria region near the Northern Territory and Queensland border.

To meet the needs of fire and emergency managers in northern Australia, this project is establishing training units that meet the requirements of emergency management in the north.
Year Type Citation
2016 Report Russell-Smith, J., Yates, C. P. & Edwards, A. C. Savanna fire management and bushfire and natural hazard scenario planning for northern Australia: annual project report 2015-2016. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Report Russell-Smith, J. Scoping remote north Australian community resilience and developing governance models through action research: annual project report 2015-2016. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2015 Report Russell-Smith, J. & Edwards, A. C. Savanna fire management and scenario planning for North Australia: Annual project report 2014-2015. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Presentation Russell-Smith, J. Risks and opportunities for sustainable savanna fire management. (2015).
2015 Journal Article Edwards, A. C., Russell-Smith, J. & Meyer, C. P. (Mick). Contemporary fire regime risks to key ecological assets and processes in north Australian savannas. International Journal of Wildland Fire 24, 857-870 (2015).
2015 Conference Paper Sangha, K. et al. Developing enterprise opportunities and resilience in remote north Australian communities - non peer reviewed extended abstract. Adelaide Conference 2015 (2015).
2015 Conference Paper Edwards, A. C., Russell-Smith, J., Sangha, K. & Yates, C. P. Culturally appropriate mapping tools for informing two-way fire management planning in remote indigenous north Australian communities - peer viewed. Adelaide Conference 2015 (2015).
2015 Report Russell-Smith, J. Scoping Remote North Australian Community Resilience Annual Report 2014. (2015).
2015 Report Russell-Smith, J. Scoping remote north Australian community resilience and developing governance models through action research: Annual project report 2014-2015. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Report Russell-Smith, J. Building Resilient Remote Communities in Northern Australia Annual Report 2014. (2015).
2014 Report Russell-Smith, J., Meyer, C. P. (Mick) & Edwards, A. C. Northern Fire Mapping: Developing Robust Fire Extent and Severity Mapping Products for the Tropical Savannas Final Report. Final Report for the Northern Fire Mapping Project (2014).
2012 Journal Article A. Gill, M. et al. Modelling the potential for prescribed burning to mitigate carbon emissions from wildfires in fire-prone forests of Australia. (2012). at <http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/WF11023.htm>
2009 Journal Article Russell-Smith, J. et al. Improving estimates of savanna burning emissions for greenhouse accounting in northern Australia: limitations, challenges, applications. International Journal of Wildland Fire 18, 1 (2009).
2009 Journal Article Edwards, A. C. & Russell-Smith, J. Ecological thresholds and the status of fire-sensitive vegetation in western Arnhem Land, northern Australia: implications for management. International Journal of Wildland Fire 18, 127 (2009).
2008 Journal Article Yates, C. P., Edwards, A. C. & Russell-Smith, J. Big fires and their ecological impacts in Australian savannas: size and frequency matters. International Journal of Wildland Fire 17, 768 (2008).
2007 Journal Article Price, O. F., Edwards, A. C. & Russell-Smith, J. Efficacy of permanent firebreaks and aerial prescribed burning in western Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia. International Journal of Wildland Fire 16, 295 (2007).
2007 Journal Article Russell-Smith, J. et al. Bushfires 'down under': patterns and implications of contemporary Australian landscape burning. International Journal of Wildland Fire 16, 361 (2007).
2006 Journal Article Russell-Smith, J. & Edwards, A. C. Seasonality and fire severity in savanna landscapes of monsoonal northern Australia. International Journal of Wildland Fire 15, 541 (2006).
2005 Journal Article Andersen, A. N. et al. Fire frequency and biodiversity conservation in Australian tropical savannas: implications from the Kapalga fire experiment. Austral Ecology 155-167 (2005).

Posters credited

Assessing ecological risk with indigenous communities: Tropical savannas Northern Australia


This project builds upon substantial work previously undertaken within the facility of the Bushfire CRC “North Australia fire mapping” project.

Remote sensing of tree structure and biomass in north Australia mesic savanna


This PhD research aims to develop and assess methods, using stereo satelitte imagery and laser scanning data, to extract 3D tree biophysical structural parameters for the purposes of accurately estimating biomass/carbon stocks in NT mesic savannas.

Jeremy Russell-Smith Conference Poster 2016


The project applies ecological-economic methods to help build the resilience and sustainability of remote Indigenous communities across northern Australia.

Key Topics:
Andrew Edwards Conference Poster 2016


Providing mapping tools from detailed research, modelling and analysis of the occurrence and effects of fire in savanna landscapes in northern Australia to assist with fire management

Key Topics:

All the resources from our 2016 conference

Research program in detail

Where, why and how are Australians dying in floods?

2015-2016 year in review

Bushfire planning with kids ebook