Published works

Published works

The Effect of Hazard Reduction Burning on the Fuel Array in Nature Reserves and Urban Parks in the Australian Capital Territory Conference Paper 2014

TitleThe Effect of Hazard Reduction Burning on the Fuel Array in Nature Reserves and Urban Parks in the Australian Capital Territory Conference Paper 2014
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsLeavesley, AJ, Mallela, J, Seddon, J, Corrigan, T, Cooper, N, Levine, B
Conference NameBushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Wellington Conference 2014
Date Published02/2015
Abstract

Hazard reduction burning is a key component of the fuel management program in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Burning is used in a variety of situations depending on the applicable fuel standard, proximity to property, aims of land management and suitability of alternative methods. The main aim of this study was to characterise the changes in the fuel array due to the ACT hazard reduction burning program. We established 187 plots within 38 hazard reduction burns and adjacent unburnt areas. The fuel in all plots was characterised using the Overall Fuel Hazard Assessment (OFHA) method and then re-assessed following burning. Opportunistic assessments of four unplanned fires were also taken for comparison. The average OFHA prior to burning was High. This reflected the dense grassy fuels, relatively sparse shrub layer and abundance of smooth-barked gum trees in Canberra’s nature reserves. Following burning the OFHA was reduced to an average of Moderate. The component of the assessment which exhibited the greatest change was the near-surface fuel which was usually consumed. Changes in bark fuel hazard and elevated fuel hazard were minimal. Surface litter had a minor effect on the OFHA because of the high grass cover in most systems and the incomplete combustion of litter. The sensitivity of the OFHA method to grass means that the OFHA may rapidly return to High – i.e. when the grass cover approaches 50 percent. In contrast, wildfires reduced the OFHA to Low, due to much greater consumption of the elevated, bark and surface litter fuels. We predict that the OFHA at sites burnt by wildfire will increase more slowly because of the slower pace of re-growth of woody vegetation.

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