Published works

Published works

Effect of prescribed burning on wildfire severity - a landscape case study from the 2003 fires in Victoria

TitleEffect of prescribed burning on wildfire severity - a landscape case study from the 2003 fires in Victoria
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsTolhurst, KG, McCarthy, GJ
Conference NameAFAC16
Date Published08/2016
PublisherBushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
Conference LocationBrisbane

This study examined the effect of previous fuel reduction burning (FRB) on the severity of the 1 million ha+ 2003 Alpine Fire in eastern Victoria, which was one of the most extensive and severe fires to have occurred in south-eastern Australia in the preceding century. Over one million hectares of largely forests, woodlands and alpine vegetation was burnt in January and February 2003 in the state of Victoria, and another contiguous 600,000 ha was burnt in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, making these the most extensive fires in the area since 1939.

Some of the unusual features of this fire were that it burnt a large contiguous area stretching 180 km from east to west and 110 km from north to south in Victoria, and it burnt over a full two-month period. The size of the fire and the severity of the seasonal conditions (Bureau of Meteorology 2003) meant that about 49 per cent of the area burnt resulted in complete overstorey canopy removal, either through crown fire or scorching and resultant leaf loss. Very few areas remained unburnt within the perimeter of the fire. As the burnt area contained 100+ recent fuel reduction burns and wildfires (last 10 years, Fig. 1), this posed a rare opportunity to assess the effectiveness of prescribed burning on such a large scale and subjected to such high-intensity fires.

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