Research leader

A/Prof Tina Bell
A/Prof Tina Bell Research Leader

Research team

Dr Malcolm Possell
Dr Malcolm Possell Research Team
Prof Mark Adams
Prof Mark Adams Research Team
Dr David Pepper Research Team
Danica Parnell Research Team

End User representatives

Student researchers

Dr Mengran Yu Student Reseacher
Angela Gormley Student Reseacher
Dr Gabriela Raducan Student Reseacher
Houzhi Wang
Dr Houzhi Wang Student Reseacher
Veronica Quintanilla Berjon Student Reseacher

Fire managers often have multiple objectives for a given prescribed burn centred around risk reduction and conservation of biodiversity. The ability to predict the effects of prescribed burning on the capacity of forests to deliver ecosystem services such as clean air, carbon sequestration, and a reliable and high-quality supply of water is becoming increasingly more important.

This research represents a concerted effort to understand the effect of prescribed burning on water quantity and carbon losses and gains in forested ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. The research team collected empirical data from over 100 sampling sites treated with a recent prescribed burn. The sampling strategy used was consistent over time with target sampling variables included for estimation of overstorey and understorey biomass and direct sampling of surface and near surface fuel loads. Site selection was stratified to accommodate as much site variability as possible and to take full advantage of prescribed burn plans.

Data collected from the field was used in a variety of modelling assignments to capture the effect of prescribed burning on changes in water availability and transformation of carbon pools. Using a mixture of models and empirical sampling and analysis, the research showed that there are few risks to long-term carbon and water cycles when prescribed burning is conducted on cycles of 10 or so years. Critical to this analysis is the frequency of bushfires – if the inter-fire interval of unplanned fires becomes short (e.g., <50 years) then ecosystem losses of carbon and reductions in water yield are likely to become semi-permanent features.

Read the final report here.

Year Type Citation
2021 Report Bell, T. et al. Optimisation of fuel reduction burning regimes for fuel reduction, carbon, water and vegetation outcomes – final project report. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2021).
2020 Journal Article Adams, M. A., Shadmanroodposhti, M. & Neumann, M. Causes and consequences of Eastern Australia’s 2019–20 season of mega‐fires: A broader perspective. Global Change Biology 26, pp. 3756-3758 (2020).
2020 Journal Article Adams, M. A., Buckley, T. N. & Turnbull, T. L. Diminishing CO2-driven gains in water-use efficiency of global forests. Nature Climate Change 10, 466–471 (2020).
2020 Report Parnell, D., Bell, T. & Possell, M. Near infrared spectroscopy as a new fire severity metric. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2020 Report Bell, T. Optimisation of fuel reduction burning regimes for fuel reduction, carbon, water and vegetation outcomes: annual report 2019-2020. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2020 Report Yu, M., Pepper, D., Bell, T. & Possell, M. Detecting the effects of prescribed burning using generalised additive modelling. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2020 Report Pepper, D., Bell, T., Possell, M. & Parnell, D. Model predictions for fuel reduction burning of eucalypt open forest in the greater Blue Mountains region. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2020 Report Parnell, D., Possell, M. & Bell, T. Estimating carbon stocks and biomass in surface fuel layers. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2020 Report Bell, T., Parnell, D. & Possell, M. Sampling and data analysis of field sites of 40 prescribed burns. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2020 Report Parnell, D., Bell, T. & Possell, M. Quantifying the conversion of vegetation to ash for soil carbon fingerprinting. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2019 Report Bell, T. Optimisation of fuel reduction burning regimes for fuel reduction, carbon, water and vegetation outcomes. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2019).
2019 Report Karunaratne, S., Possell, M., Pepper, D. & Bell, T. Modelling emissions from prescribed burning using FULLCAM. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2019).
2018 Journal Article Gharun, M., Possell, M., R. Vervoort, W., Adams, M. A. & Bell, T. Can a growth model be used to describe forest carbon and water balance after fuel reduction burning in temperate forests?. Science of the Total Environment 615, 1000-1009 (2018).
2018 Report Bell, T., Parnell, D. & Possell, M. Sampling and data analysis of field sites in NSW. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2018).
2017 Conference Paper Rumsewicz, M. Research proceedings from the 2017 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2017 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Conference Paper Gharun, M., Possell, M. & Bell, T. Modelling feedback between fuel reduction burning and forest carbon and water balance in eucalypt forests. AFAC17 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Journal Article Gharun, M. et al. Improving forest sampling strategies for assessment of fuel reduction burning. Forest Ecology and Management 392, 78-89 (2017).
2017 Journal Article Gharun, M., Possell, M., Bell, T. & Adams, M. A. Optimisation of fuel reduction burning regimes for carbon, water and vegetation outcomes. Journal of Environmental Management 203, 157-170 (2017).
2017 Report Bell, T. Optimisation of fuel reduction burning regimes for fuel reduction, carbon, water and vegetation outcomes: annual report 2016-17. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Report Gharun, M., Possell, M. & Bell, T. Calibration of water balance using digital photography. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2016 Journal Article Jenkins, M. E., Bell, T., Poon, L. Fan, Aponte, C. & Adams, M. A. Production of pyrogenic carbon during planned fires in forests of East Gippsland, Victoria. Forest Ecology and Management 373, 9-16 (2016).
2016 Report Possell, M., Gharun, M. & Bell, T. Application of statistical techniques to pyrolysis-GC-MS data from soil to identify the impact of fire. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Report Bell, T. Optimisation of fuel reduction burning regimes for fuel reduction, carbon, water and vegetation outcomes: Annual project report 2015-2016. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2015 Journal Article Dijkstra, F. & Adams, M. A. Fire eases imbalances of nitrogen and phosphorus in woody plants. Ecosystems 18, 769-779 (2015).
2015 Journal Article Possell, M., Jenkins, M. E., Bell, T. & Adams, M. A. Emissions from prescribed fires in temperate forest in south-east Australia: implications for carbon accounting. Biogeosciences 12, (2015).
2015 Journal Article Gharun, M., Turnbull, T. L., Pfautsch, S. & Adams, M. A. Stomatal structure and physiology do not explain differences in water use among montane eucalypts. Oecologia 177, 1171-1181 (2015).
2015 Journal Article Gharun, M., Turnbull, T. L., Henry, J. & Adams, M. A. Mapping spatial and temporal variation in tree water use with an elevation model and gridded temperature data. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 200, 249-257 (2015).
2015 Journal Article Gharun, M., Amzi, M. & Adams, M. A. Short-term forecasting of water yield from forested catchments after bushfire: a case study from south-east Australia. Water 7, 599-614 (2015).
2015 Presentation Possell, M. Optimisation of fuel reduction burning regimes for fuel reduction, carbon, water and vegetation outcomes. (2015).
2015 Report Bell, T. Optimisation of Fuel Reduction Burning Regimes for Fuel Reduction Annual Report 2014. (2015).
2015 Report Bell, T. Optimisation of fuel reduction burning regimes for fuel reduction, carbon, water and vegetation outcomes: Annual project report 2014-2015. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
Date Title Download Key Topics
21 Mar 2014 Optimisation of fuel reduction burning regimes for fuel reduction, carbon, water and vegetation outcomes PDF icon 606.43 KB (606.43 KB) fuel reduction, greenhouse gases, prescribed burning
04 Dec 2014 Optimising fuel reduction burning PDF icon 605.15 KB (605.15 KB) fire, fuel reduction, prescribed burning
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 Optimisation of fuel reduction burning regimes - project overview File 0 bytes (0 bytes) fuel reduction, planning, prescribed burning
07 Jul 2017 Building bushfire predictive services capability PDF icon 9.97 MB (9.97 MB) fire, fire weather, modelling
07 Sep 2017 Modelling feedback between fuel reduction burning and forest carbon and water balance in eucalypt forests PDF icon 2.39 MB (2.39 MB) environments, fuel reduction, prescribed burning
31 Oct 2017 Prescribed burning cluster PDF icon 129.41 KB (129.41 KB) fuel reduction, mitigation, prescribed burning
31 Oct 2017 Prescribed burning and predictive services PDF icon 4.46 MB (4.46 MB) fire, fire impacts, prescribed burning
23 Nov 2018 Optimisation of prescribed burning regimes for fuel reduction, carbon, water and vegetation PDF icon 1.34 MB (1.34 MB) fuel reduction, prescribed burning
13 May 2020 Webinar 2 (13 May): Tina Bell presentation File 8.48 MB (8.48 MB) fire, fire impacts, prescribed burning
14 May 2020 Webinar 2 (13 May): Mark Adams presentation File 4.21 MB (4.21 MB) fire, fire impacts, prescribed burning
01 Jun 2020 Q&A with A/Prof Tina Bell - National Fire Fuels Science webinar: the science of hazard reduction File 0 bytes (0 bytes) fire, fire severity, prescribed burning
Optimisation of fuel reduction burning regimes: Determining fire size
25 Aug 2014
Optimising fuel reduction burning at the landscape- or catchment-scale requires knowledge of the effects of...
Spatial Variability After Prescribed Burning: Effects on Vegetation and Soil Properties
18 Aug 2015
Optimisation of prescribed burning requires a strong understanding of the underlying variability of fuel,...
Mana Gharun Conference Poster 2016
14 Aug 2016
This project focuses on improving the capability of land managers to use prescribed fire to reduce fuel loads...
Assessing the impact of fire using soil and pyrolisis-GC-MS
30 Jun 2017
Soil organic matter has strong effects on soil properties such as water holding capacity, soil structure and...
Understanding carbon pools to improve emission estimates from fires
19 Sep 2018
"Use of prescribed burning creates emissions and particulates. However, fire management can potentially...
27 Aug 2019
The Full Carbon Accounting Model (FullCAM) is a software tool developed by the Australian Government,...
31 Aug 2020
Key findings: Optimisation of fuel reduction burning regimes for carbon, water and vegetation