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A framework for prioritising prescribed burning on public land in western Australia

Author(s): Trevor Howard, Neil D. Burrows, Tony Smith, Glen Daniel, Lachlan McCaw
Year Published: 2020

A risk-based framework for targeting investment in prescribed burning in Western Australia is presented. Bushfire risk is determined through a risk assessment and prioritisation process. The framework provides principles and a rationale for programming fuel management with indicators to demonstrate that bushfire risk has been reduced to an acceptable level. Indicators provide targets for fuel management that are applicable throughout the state and can be customised to meet local circumstances. The framework identifies eight bushfire risk management zones having broad consistency of land use, fire environment and management approach, which combine to create a characteristic risk profile. Thirteen fuel types based primarily on structural attributes of the vegetation that influence fire behaviour are recognised and used to assign models for fuel accumulation and fire behaviour prediction. Each bushfire risk management zone is divided into fire management areas, based on the management intent. These are areas where fuels will be managed primarily to minimise the likelihood of fire causing adverse impacts on human settlements or critical infrastructure, to reduce the risk of bushfire at the landscape scale or to achieve other land management outcomes. Indicators of acceptable bushfire risk are defined for each fire management area and are modified according to the distribution of assets and potential fire behaviour in the landscape. Risk criteria established in the framework can be converted to spatially represented targets for fuel management in each zone and can be reported against to measure the effectiveness of the fuel management program. In areas where the primary intent is to reduce the risk of bushfire at the landscape scale, managers have flexibility to apply prescribed fire in ways that maintain and enhance ecosystem services, nature conservation and landscape values through variation in the seasonality, intensity and scale of planned burning.

Citation: Howard, Trevor; Burrows, Neil D.; Smith, Tony; Daniel, Glen; McCaw, Lachlan. 2020. A framework for prioritising prescribed burning on public land in western Australia. International Journal of Wildland Fire 29(5):314-325. https://doi.org/10.1071/WF19029
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Fire Effects, Fuels, Fuel Treatments & Effects, Prescribed Fire-use treatments, Risk, Risk assessment
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 21134
FRAMES RCS number: 61114
Record updated: May 5, 2020