Research leader

Research team

Dr Neil Burrows
Dr Neil Burrows Research Team
Prof Michael Douglas Research Team
Dr Andrew Edwards Research Team
Associate Professor Lindsay Hutley
A/Prof Lindsay Hutley Research Team
A/Prof Stefan Maier Research Team
Steve Sutton Research Team
Vanessa Adams
Dr Vanessa Adams Research Team
Prof Douglas Paton
Prof Douglas Paton Research Team
Cameron Yates
Cameron Yates Research Team
Kamaljit Sangha Research Team
Dominique Lynch Research Team

This research has developed a suite of case studies. In each case,  interviews/workshops have been conducted with members of the, now, wide-spread Indigenous Ranger Groups (IRGs) to ascertain the aspirations, willingness and capacity of the Indigenous Rangers to engage in emergency management activities. The main identified issues across the selected remote communities include little engagement of locals, if any, in managing emergency situations around the community, inappropriate placement of emergency management plans in police stations, lack of resources and services in remote communities, broader recognition of IRGs capacity to deliver emergency management services, and willingness of IRGs to participate in EM services.

This research continues the service delivery program of land management, monitoring and evaluation tools to assist fire managers in remote north Australia. To develop “Improved Fire Management Regimes”, the research team provides information with respect to the spatial distribution, and effects of fires on tropical savanna and rangeland habitats through the Savanna Monitoring & Evaluation Reporting Framework (SMERF). In particular, they include the development of a fire severity map product, not only to inform land management, but to improve Savanna Burning greenhouse gas emissions calculations.

This project addresses ongoing priorities identified by partner agencies and community stakeholders requiring further action-based research and implementation, especially addressing:

  • Understanding the full “costs and benefits” of engaging with IRGs in delivery of effective emergency management in remote community settings
  • Full accounting of the costs of natural hazards and disasters in northern Australia
  • Ongoing development of tools to assist savanna fire managers, for example: fire behavior models, improved fire mapping resolution, curing mapping.

Read the final report here.

Year Type Citation
2021 Journal Article Sangha, K., Russell-Smith, J., Edwards, A. C. & Surjan, A. Assessing the real costs of natural hazard-induced disasters: A case study from Australia’s Northern Territory. Natural Hazards (2021). doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-021-04692-y
2020 Journal Article Yates, C. P., MacDermott, H., Evans, J., Murphy, B. P. & Russell-Smith, J. Seasonal fine fuel and coarse woody debris dynamics in north Australian savannas. International Journal of Wildland Fire (2020). doi:https://doi.org/10.1071/WF20073
2020 Journal Article Russell-Smith, J., McCaw, L. W. & Leavesley, A. J. Adaptive prescribed burning in Australia for the early 21st Century – context, status, challenges. International Journal of Wildland Fire 29, 305-313 (2020).
2020 Report Russell-Smith, J., Sangha, K. & Edwards, A. C. Scenario planning for remote community risk management in northern Australia - final project report. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2020 Report Russell-Smith, J., Sangha, K. & Edwards, A. C. Savanna fire management and bushfire and natural hazard scenario planning for north Australia. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2020 Report Russell-Smith, J., Sangha, K. & Edwards, A. C. Building capacity in north Australian remote communities - utilisation project report. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2019 Journal Article Evans, J. & Russell-Smith, J. Delivering effective savanna fire management for defined biodiversity conservation outcomes: an Arnhem Land case study. International Journal of Wildland Fire (2019). doi:https://doi.org/10.1071/WF18126
2019 Journal Article Russell-Smith, J. et al. Tree recruitment dynamics in fire-prone eucalypt savanna. Ecosphere 10, e02649 (2019).
2019 Journal Article Sangha, K., Edwards, A. C. & Russell-Smith, J. Long-term solutions to improve emergency management services in remote communities in northern Australia. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 32, (2019).
2019 Journal Article Russell-Smith, J., Edwards, A. C., Sangha, K., Yates, C. P. & Gardener, M. Challenges for prescribed fire management in Australia’s fire-prone rangelands – the example of the Northern Territory. International Journal of Wildland Fire (2019). doi:https://doi.org/10.1071/WF18127
2019 Report Edwards, A. C. Multi-scaled calibration of high-resolution burnt area and fire severity mapping - workshop report. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2019).
2018 Journal Article Edwards, A. C., Russell-Smith, J. & Maier, S. A comparison and validation of satellite-derived fire severity mapping techniques in fire prone north Australian savannas: Extreme fires and tree stem mortality. Remote Sensing of Environment 206, 287-299 (2018).
2018 Journal Article Lynch, E., Russell-Smith, J., Edwards, A. C., Evans, J. & Yates, C. P. Incentivising fire management in Pindan (Acacia shrubland): A proposed fuel type for Australia's Savanna burning greenhouse gas emissions abatement methodology. Ecological Management & Restoration 19, 230-238 (2018).
2018 Journal Article Russell-Smith, J. & Sangha, K. Emerging opportunities for developing a diversified land sector economy in Australia’s northern savannas. The Rangeland Journal 40, 315-330 (2018).
2018 Journal Article Setterfield, S. A., Rossiter-Rachor, N. & Adams, V. M. Navigating the fiery debate: the role of scientific evidence in eliciting policy and management responses for contentious plants in northern Australia. Pacific Conservation Biology 24, 318-328 (2018).
2018 Report Setterfield, S. A. & Rossiter-Rachor, N. Savanna fire management and bushfire and natural hazard scenario planning for northern Australia annual project report part two: managing flammable high biomass grassy weeds. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2018).
2017 Journal Article Russell-Smith, J., Evans, J., Edwards, A. C. & Simms, A. Assessing ecological performance thresholds in fire‐prone Kakadu National Park, northern Australia. Ecosphere 8, (2017).
2017 Journal Article Freeman, J., Edwards, A. C. & Russell-Smith, J. Fire-driven decline of endemic Allosyncarpia monsoon rainforests in Northern Australia. Forests 8, (2017).
2017 Journal Article Sangha, K. & Russell-Smith, J. Towards an Indigenous ecosystem services valuation framework: a north Australian example. Conservation and Society 15, 255-269 (2017).
2017 Report Russell-Smith, J. Savanna fire management and bushfire and natural hazard scenario planning for northern Australia: annual project report 2016-17. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2016 Report Russell-Smith, J., Yates, C. P. & Edwards, A. C. Savanna fire management and bushfire and natural hazard scenario planning for northern Australia: annual project report 2015-2016. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2015 Conference Paper Rumsewicz, M. Research proceedings from the 2015 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2015 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Conference Paper Edwards, A. C., Russell-Smith, J., Sangha, K. & Yates, C. P. Culturally appropriate mapping tools for informing two-way fire management planning in remote indigenous north Australian communities - peer viewed. Adelaide Conference 2015 (2015).
2015 Journal Article Edwards, A. C., Russell-Smith, J. & Meyer, C. P. (Mick). Contemporary fire regime risks to key ecological assets and processes in north Australian savannas. International Journal of Wildland Fire 24, 857-870 (2015).
2015 Report Russell-Smith, J. & Edwards, A. C. Savanna fire management and scenario planning for North Australia: Annual project report 2014-2015. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
Date Title Download Key Topics
21 Mar 2014 Fire management for northern Australia PDF icon 7.5 MB (7.5 MB) Northern Australia, savanna grasslands, scenario analysis
21 Mar 2014 Fire management training for northern Australia PDF icon 1.22 MB (1.22 MB) fire, indigenous communities, Northern Australia
11 Sep 2015 Savanna fire management and bushfire and natural hazard scenario planning for North Australia PDF icon 16.09 MB (16.09 MB) Northern Australia, planning
14 Dec 2015 Scoping remote north Australian community resilience - project overview File 0 bytes (0 bytes) Northern Australia, planning, resilience
02 Feb 2016 Research for better land management PDF icon 133.76 KB (133.76 KB) fuel reduction, land management, prescribed burning
22 Feb 2016 Savanna fire management for north Australia - project overview File 0 bytes (0 bytes) Northern Australia, planning, savanna grasslands
24 Oct 2016 Savanna fire management and bushfire and natural hazard scenario planning for north Australia PDF icon 3.85 MB (3.85 MB) fire, planning, prescribed burning
24 Oct 2016 Flammable grassy weeds PDF icon 3.42 MB (3.42 MB) fire, fuel reduction, Northern Australia
27 Jun 2017 Update on SMERF (the Savanna Monitoring and Evaluation Reporting Framework) PDF icon 1.62 MB (1.62 MB)
27 Jun 2017 Example SMERF report PDF icon 197.79 KB (197.79 KB)
27 Jun 2017 The economics of fire management and community resilience PDF icon 2.93 MB (2.93 MB)
07 Jul 2017 Building community resilience in remote north Australia PDF icon 5.37 MB (5.37 MB) communities, indigenous communities, Northern Australia
31 Oct 2017 Prescribed burning cluster PDF icon 129.41 KB (129.41 KB) fuel reduction, mitigation, prescribed burning
07 Mar 2018 Strengthening fire mapping for improved fire management and carbon abatement in north Australia PDF icon 412.36 KB (412.36 KB) fire severity, land management, prescribed burning
17 Apr 2018 Building community resilience in northern Australia PDF icon 3.92 MB (3.92 MB) multi-hazard, Northern Australia, resilience
01 Jun 2018 Fire Australia Issue Two 2018 PDF icon 6.73 MB (6.73 MB) communities, decision making, emergency management
23 Nov 2018 The savanna and rangelands monitoring and evaluation reporting framework PDF icon 1.67 MB (1.67 MB) fire, fire weather, Northern Australia
08 Oct 2019 A monitoring and evaluation framework for the northern savannas File 0 bytes (0 bytes) framework, land management, savanna grasslands
17 Oct 2019 The Savanna and Rangelands Monitoring and Evaluation Reporting Framework (SMERF) PDF icon 8.51 MB (8.51 MB) fire, Northern Australia
21 Apr 2020 Landscape prescribed burning: a south west Australian perspective PDF icon 242.84 KB (242.84 KB) emergency management, land management, prescribed burning
13 May 2020 Webinar 2 (13 May): Neil Burrows presentation File 4.9 MB (4.9 MB) fire, fire impacts, prescribed burning
18 Nov 2020 Introduction and overview | Northern Australia Research Engagement Forum (1/9) File 0 bytes (0 bytes) indigenous communities, local knowledge, Northern Australia
18 Nov 2020 The Savanna Monitoring and Evaluation Framework | Northern Australia Research Engagement Forum (2/9) File 0 bytes (0 bytes) indigenous communities, local knowledge, Northern Australia
25 Nov 2020 Carbon abatement through better fire mapping fire, Northern Australia, prescribed burning
21 Apr 2021 Building collaborative emergency management capacity in northern Australia PDF icon 1.54 MB (1.54 MB) indigenous communities, Northern Australia, resilience
17 May 2021 Fire Australia Issue Two 2021 PDF icon 11.74 MB (11.74 MB) capability, emergency management, Northern Australia
15 Jul 2021 Collaboration based on Indigenous leadership indigenous communities, Northern Australia, resilience
08 Sep 2021 Fire Australia Issue Three 2021 PDF icon 10.72 MB (10.72 MB) communities, indigenous communities, recovery
Assessing ecological risk with indigenous communities: Tropical savannas Northern Australia
25 Aug 2014
This project builds upon substantial work previously undertaken within the facility of the Bushfire CRC “...
Andrew Edwards Conference Poster 2016
14 Aug 2016
Providing mapping tools from detailed research, modelling and analysis of the occurrence and effects of fire...
The Savanna Monitoring & Evaluation Reporting Framework (SMERF)
29 Jun 2017
The work undertaken through the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC is part of a savanna-wide program of mostly...
AFAC19 poster
27 Aug 2019
North Australia is at risk from bushfires, cyclones, storms and floods. In 2016-17 the average cost of major...
31 Aug 2020
Key findings: Long term support from Fire and Emergency Services Agenciesis necessary to develop the...