Understanding and Mitigating Hazards

PhD opportunity

Key Topics:

Project Status:

PhD: The susceptibility of rural communities and landscapes to smoke

Supervisors:

Dr Tina Bell, Dr Peter Ampt and Prof Mark Adams Research location: Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Sydney, Centre for Carbon, Water and Food

Considerable emphasis is put on land use planning when assessing risk from natural hazards and climate change and this process is thought to be one of the most important measures for mitigation (e.g. Natural Disasters in Australia, National Bushfire Inquiry). A number of frameworks have been developed for determining susceptibility of communities to natural hazards including bushfires (e.g. the Bushfire Integrated Planning and Building Framework, developed by the Victorian Government). Smoke from fires – planned or unplanned – pose a considerable risk to human health and the environment. As bushfires are expected to increase under predicted climate change scenarios and with requirements for higher levels of prescribed burning activity, there will be a concomitant increase in smoke affecting populated areas. To address this growing problem, this PhD project will assess the physical landscape, land use patterns and population demographics to understand patterns of vulnerability of communities and the environment to smoke.

In this project, selected land use planning frameworks will be reviewed and evaluated for their appropriateness for determining the vulnerability of communities and different land use types to smoke from planned and unplanned fires. The biophysical aspects of these frameworks (the so-called ‘place-specific’ and ‘place-based’ assessments) will be of particular importance given the influence of smoke on communities beyond the immediate vicinity of the fire. This project will also have a participatory research aspect using community-based studies. It is often recommended that community consultation processes are needed to determine ‘acceptable levels of risk’. This component will determine how smoke from prescribed burning and bushfires is perceived by rural and urban communities. The student will gain skills in participatory research and human geography and a comprehensive understanding in management of fires and risk. The Faculty of Agriculture and Environment and the Centre for Carbon, Water and Food at the University of Sydney has world-class facilities and capabilities for analysis of vegetation and fuels that are not available elsewhere in Australia. In the recent ERA ranking process, the University of Sydney had maximum scores in the fields of Soil Science and Plant Biology and currently boasts five Future Fellows.

Send an enquiry

More information

Lyndsey Wright

Contract Research and Education Manager, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

Phone: 03 9412 9600
Email: lyndsey.wright@bnhcrc.com.au

Level 5 / 340 Albert Street
East Melbourne, Victoria 3002

Postgraduate Scholarships Application Process

Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC postgraduate scholarships are available for students pursuing research higher degrees in the bushfire research fields, in line with Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC projects.

Both Full and Top Up scholarships and project support funding are available for outstanding students, with preference given to the provision of top up scholarships.

Current funding amounts are:

  • Full Scholarships of up to $28,000 per annum for three and a half years.
  • Top Up scholarships of $10,000 per annum for three and a half years to holders of Australian Postgraduate Awards (APA) and University Research Scholarships.

Bushfire & Natural Hazard CRC Scholarship Application Kit

You are welcome to submit enquiries using the form on this page. However, you must complete this form to make an application.

Browse all student opportunities

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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

Research clusters