Understanding and Mitigating Hazards

Project Status:

Prescribed burning in Australia currently stands at a cross roads. The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission recommended an annual treatment target of 5% of public land in Victoria. Subsequently, concerns have been formally raised (e.g. Bushfires Royal Commission Implementation Monitor 2013 Annual Report) that such an area-based target may not deliver the most effective levels of risk reduction for people and property in Victoria. Concurrently, some other States have adopted such a prescribed burning target, but formal attempts to evaluate its effects on risk to people, property and environmental values across different jurisdictions are lacking. Such extrapolation of the 2009 BFRC recommendation pre-supposes that there is a “one-size fits all” solution to the problem. While many agencies are moving toward planning systems supposedly based on risk assessment, knowledge of the best way to use prescribed fire to reduce risk to key values is generally lacking.

Prescribed burning in Australia currently stands at a crossroads. The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission recommended an annual treatment target of five percent of public land in Victoria. This was accepted, but in 2015 the target was removed by the Victorian Government.

Concurrently, some other states have adopted prescribed burning targets, but formal attempts to evaluate its effects on risk to people, property and environmental values across different jurisdictions are lacking. Such extrapolation of the 2009 Royal Commission recommendation presupposes that there is a ‘one-size fits all’ solution to the problem. While many agencies are moving toward planning systems supposedly based on risk assessment, knowledge of the best way to use prescribed fire to reduce risk to key values is generally lacking.

The project aims to deliver:

  1. A Prescribed Burning Atlas to guide implementation of tailor-madeprescribed burning strategies to suit the biophysical, climatic and human context of all bioregions across southern Australia. The Atlas will define the quantitative trajectory of risk reduction (including resultant residual risk) for multiple values (such as property, water, carbon, vegetation structure) in response to differing prescribed burning strategies (including spatial configurations and rates of treatment), across different Australian environments based on their unique climatic, biophysical and human characteristics.
  2. Continental-scale, biophysically-based models of ignition and fuel accumulation for Australian ecosystems, for use in dynamic risk management planning and operational decision-making about prescribed burning at seasonal and inter-annual time scales, accessible via the Atlas.
  3. Detailed scenarios of future change in risk mitigation effectiveness of prescribed burning strategies in response to integrated scenarios of changes to climate, fuel (including elevated CO2 effects) and ignitions. These will also be accessible through the Atlas.

Case study areas have been selected for fire spread simulations across southern Australia, based on the need to explore climatic, population and land use variation across the region.

While the initial focus has been on fire history, fire severity and a variety of layers needed to run the Phoenix RapidFire model, the project is also examining a broader range of biophysical datasets, which will inform both the simulation studies and also the empirical analyses. Simulations will be conducted, with the initial focus on peri-urban areas near Canberra, Adelaide, Hobart and the Gold Coast.

Fire in the Australian high plains
27 October, 2016
This is the third project update from the From hectares to tailor-made solutions study, with information for end-users and those interested in the latest from the project.
16 August, 2016
New journal articles and reports on CRC research are available online.
Prescribed burning at Ngarkat Conservation Park, SA.
29 July, 2016
This is the second project update from the From hectares to tailor-made solutions study, with information for end-users and those interested in the latest from the project.
Prescribed burning in northern NSW
20 May, 2016
This is the first project update from the From hectares to tailor-made solutions study, with information for end-users and those interested in the latest from the project.
Delivering Effective Prescribed Burning Across Southern Australia
18 Aug 2015

Although many jurisdictions are committed to prescribed burning, we do not understand its effects on risks to people, property and environmental values across Australia.

Ross Bradstock Conference Poster 2016
14 Aug 2016

This project will deliver a prescribed burning atlas to guide implementation of ‘tailor-made’ prescribed burning strategies to suit the biophysical, climatic and human context of all bioregions across southern Australia

Key Topics:
Trent Penman Conference Poster 2016
14 Aug 2016

Bushfire management involves making decisions about complex issues that involve people, communities, stakeholders and organisations with many different perceptions and objectives.

Key Topics:

Research clusters

Explore by keyword