Research leader

Paul Hesse Research Leader

Research team

Samuel Shumack Research Team

This study investigates the potential for long term change in the coastal landscape following wildfires. Under certain conditions it is possible for coastal dunes to shift from stable to active and vice versa. The removal of vegetation via disturbance (natural or human) is one possible trigger for the transition from stable to active (destabilisation). Fire has been proposed as a disturbance which is likely to destabilise dunes, however this has not been well studied. The aim of this project is to assess the immediate aftermath of fires on two dune areas near Esperance, WA (behind Quallilup Beach to the west, and Wylie Beach to the east), and then to monitor the geomorphic response of the dunes, interpreting this with regard to a range of potentially influential factors (meteorological and ecological). The key themes thus far are that re-sprouting plants at Wylie Beach indicate a reasonable likelihood of vegetation recovery and the dunes remaining stable. However, full recovery may hinge on appropriate conditions for continued plant regrowth. The future Quallilup less clear, due to the potential decrease in regrowth after a more intense burn. It is feasible that prolonged exposure of the surface to strong winds in the absence of vegetation recovery may eventually wear through the protective crusting and destabilise the dunes.

Read the final report from this project here.