Fires and Burning

Hazard-reduction burning has limited benefits in curbing bushfires: researchers

Monday, October 19, 2015

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Two years ago this past weekend, a ferocious bushfire erupted near the edge of the Blue Mountains town of Winmalee, destroying almost 200 houses before many firefighters arrived or absent residents could return to protect their homes.

Controlled burning not protecting us: report

Sunday, October 18, 2015

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Controlled burning is unlikely to be protecting most of the state from bushfire, according to new research.

As authorities come under scrutiny over their handling of planned burns that raged out of control near Lancefield in central Victoria this month, a study has shown such burning had "leverage" in reducing the area burnt by later fires in only four of 30 regions examined in Victoria, South Australia, NSW and the ACT.

Studies question wisdom of thinning forests to stop fires

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

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In 2011, a downed power line sparked the massive Las Conchas wildfire that roared through homes and scorched 156,000 acres of forest in the Jemez Mountains. And that was just the beginning of the damage. In the weeks that followed, rains washed tons of ash and sediment off the blistered slopes into the Rio Grande, forcing the city of Santa Fe to shut down a river diversion system for six weeks.

Mechanical fuel reduction trial to be rolled out across Victoria

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

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A NEW method of fuel reduction — physically removing trees, shrubs and undergrowth on public land — will be trialled across Victoria as part of bushfire prevention.

Its called mechanical fuel reduction

Picture: David Caird

“Mechanical fuel reduction” is widely used in the US and Canada as a move away from solely relying on burning off during winter.

Prime Minister Tony Abb­ott last week announced $1.5 million to fund trials in Victoria, NSW and Queensland as part of the National Bushfire Mitigation Program.

The trial will examine the effectiveness of the method in forests close to towns or where conservation values could be compromised by fuel reduction burning.

Percentage targets for planned burning are blunt tools that don’t work

Monday, March 30, 2015

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Large bushfires occur in the mallee shrublands and woodlands of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. Lauren Brown, CC BY

Fire profoundly influences human health, the economy and wildlife. In Victoria, for instance, bushfires have burned more than one million hectares since 2009, claiming 178 lives and more than 2,300 homes, and causing more than A$4 billion in social, economic and environmental costs.

Reducing fire risk is a global issue, as highlighted by recent devastating fires in the United States and South Africa, as well as in other Australian states.

To reduce fire risk, the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission recommended that the Victorian Government aim to burn at least 5% of public land as an annual rolling target. The Inspector-General for Emergency Management is currently reviewing this simple percentage target against a new risk-based approach to bushfire management.

Not just a pretty tail: The lyrebird is a superb firefighter

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

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Victoria's forests have an unlikely fire warden: the superb lyrebird.Superb lyrebirds reduced forest litter by 1.66 tonnes per hectare over a nine-month period. Photo: Alex Maisey

"Lyrebirds are reducing the chance of fires occurring in the areas where they forage ... and unburnt patches within large wildfires are really important sites for animals to survive."

New research has revealed the iconic songbird reduces the risk of bushfire by spreading dry leaf litter and digging safe havens that help other species survive fires.

The lyrebird's foraging reduces forest fuel loads, which in turn can reduce the risk of life-threatening fires, researchers from La Trobe University have found.