Quantifying the relationship between fire management, bushfires and ecosystem resilience | Natural Hazards Research Australia

Quantifying the relationship between fire management, bushfires and ecosystem resilience

Photo: Matt Palmer, Unsplash
Project type

Commissioned research

Project status

In planning

This project aims to quantify the interaction between fire management, bushfires and ecosystem resilience. Researchers will use a landscape approach across a variety of landscape contexts and vegetation types throughout Victoria through a retrospective statistical analysis of the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) fire history dataset. 

An online project briefing was held on Wednesday 30 August to provide a more detailed briefing of the project and the opportunity for interested parties to pose specific questions. View the recording below. 

Project details

Recent mega fires including the 2002/03 and 2006/07 alpine fires and Great Divide fires, 2009 Black Saturday and 2019/20 Black Summer fires have substantially impacted environmental values and diminished ecosystem resilience. Driven by this wildfire regime, over 55% of all vegetation across Victoria is currently below reproductive capacity and over 43% of species are experiencing declines in habitat availability. These trends have been primarily driven by large- scale fire events in the topographically diverse forested landscapes of Central and Eastern Victoria. These events are predicted to increase in frequency, scale, and intensity with future climate change. 

Management interventions which promote ecosystem resilience are required to avoid the risk of ecosystem collapse, loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystem services. The impetus to mitigate risk is formalised in legislation and policy and there is a need to justify policy choices, planning and operational decision-making based on quantifiable risk mitigation benefits. 

This project will use retrospective statistical analysis of Victoria’s fire history to identify fire management regimes which promote ecosystem resilience and mitigate the impacts of bushfires on ecosystem resilience and ecological values. 

The project has the following specific objectives: 

  1. Using the DEECA fire history layer, identify how fire management and bushfires have contributed to the current state of ecosystem resilience within a subset of landscapes across Victoria. 

  1. To quantify where fire management has mitigated the impacts of bushfire activity on ecosystem resilience within the subset of landscapes. 

  1. To provide recommendations on how fire management can be applied to drive positive trends in ecosystem resilience based on real-world examples from the fire history dataset.