Research leader

Ross Bradstock
Prof Ross Bradstock Research Leader

Research team

Mr Michael Bedward Research Team
Matthias Boer
Dr Matthias Boer Research Team
Dr Luke Collins Research Team
Brett Cirulis Research Team
A/Prof Trent Penman Research Team
Dr Owen Price Research Team
Dr Hamish Clarke Research Team

End User representatives

Naomi Stephens
Naomi Stephens End-User
Mike Wouters
Mike Wouters End-User
Dr Felipe Aires End-User
Louise Mendel End-User

Student researchers

Heather Simpson Student Reseacher

The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission recommended an annual treatment target of 5% of public land in Victoria. Subsequently, concerns were formally raised (for example in the Bushfires Royal Commission Implementation Monitor 2013 Annual Report) that such an area-based target may not deliver the most effective levels of risk reduction. Victoria has now moved to a risk-based approach for prescribed burning.

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-made prescribed 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.

The Prescribed Burning Atlas being produced will provide quantitative risk-response relationships for prediction of the most probable outcome of different treatment strategies across varied bioregions. The Atlas will have an interactive interface for end-users that allows them to explore not just these risk-response relationships, but also fuel accumulation and ignition probability models as well as projections of changes to risk under different climate, land use and management scenarios. The Atlas will also potentially provide access to relevant data sets, reports and publications.

The Atlas is likely to be used in a range of ways, from strategic and tactical decision-making to policy development, resource allocation and education.

A prototype Atlas will be piloted amongst end-users in 2019 prior to full release in 2020. The Atlas is designed to be a living and updateable resource beyond the timeline of this project with the capacity to integrate new data and design features.

Year Type Citation
2018 Conference Paper Bates, J. Research proceedings from the 2018 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2017 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2018).
2018 Report Clarke, H. et al. From hectares to tailor-made solutions for risk mitigation: annual project report 2017-18. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2018).
2017 Report Clarke, H. et al. From hectares to tailor-made solutions for risk mitigation - systems to deliver effective prescribed burning across Australian ecosystems: annual project report 2016-17. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2016 Journal Article Driscoll, D. A. et al. Resolving future fire management conflicts using multi-criteria decision making. Conservation Biology 30, 196-205 (2016).
2016 Report Bradstock, R. A. From hectares to tailor-made solutions for risk mitigation: systems to deliver effective prescribed burning across Australian ecosystems: Annual project report 2015-2016. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2015 Journal Article Penman, T. D. et al. Reducing the risk of house loss due to wildfires. Environmental Modelling and Software 67, 12-25 (2015).
2015 Journal Article Price, O. F., Penman, T. D., Bradstock, R. A., Boer, M. M. & Clarke, H. Biogeographical variation in the potential effectiveness of prescribed fire in south-eastern Australia. Journal of Biogeography 42, 2234-2245 (2015).
2015 Presentation Bradstock, R. A. From hectares to tailor-made solutions for risk mitigation: systems to deliver effective prescribed burning across Australian ecosystems. (2015).
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...
Ross Bradstock Conference Poster 2016
14 Aug 2016
This project will deliver a prescribed burning atlas to guide implementation of ‘tailor-made’ prescribed...
Trent Penman Conference Poster 2016
14 Aug 2016
Bushfire management involves making decisions about complex issues that involve people, communities,...
From hectares to tailor-made solutions for prescribed burning
30 Jun 2017
How does prescribed burning effectiveness in mitigating risk depend on the diverse and changing biophysical,...
From hectares to tailor-made solutions
19 Sep 2018
How does the diverse and changing biophysical, climatic and human context of southern Australia influence...