Science says regrowth after clearfell logging increases bushfire risk.
Professor David Lindenmayer
Professor David Lindenmayer, expert in Forest Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation, co-authored a research paper in 2009 ‘Effects of logging on fire regimes in moist forests’. This paper is a review of research from around the world, and indicates that logging practices elevate bushfire risks in wet forests.
The introduction states that the motivation for the study was in part to counter claims made by pro-logging groups (after the 2009 Black Saturday fires) for more logging to reduce bushfire risk.
Professor Ross Bradstock.
Bradstock’s and Price research (download pdf) was based on a statistical analysis of 4,500 points within forested public land that was burnt by fires started on Black Saturday. Bradstock found that weather was the driving influence on bushfire, followed by forest type and then fuel loads. All these factors are interrelated.
Professor Bradstock provided a presentation (download pdf) to the Bushfire Royal Commission that included an explanation on how young regrowth from past clearfell logged native forest, increases the crown bushfire risk.
“It appears that recent logging elevates the severity of fires. So you have got higher severity. We are talking about crown fires here"
The following photos were taken during a field trip Toolangi State forest area, (Murrindindi fire complex) that support Professor Bradstock's research findings.
Professor Bradstock listed the order of influence on bushfire severity and intensity. The time since logging was not a dominate influnce, but never the less a significant influence. The results are counter intuitive.
(Note TS = Time Since and Topo = Topological.)
Logging regrowth that established before the Black Saturday fires in the Toolangi State forest can be seen
using Google Earth (download kmz). The blue lines trace the boundaries of previous clearfell logging regrowth.
Bushfire intensity maps (download 5 MB pdf) show the intensity of a bushfire. When logging coupes (blue lines) are shown on a
Murrindindi bushfire intensity map, most areas previously clearfell logged were crown burnt.
This supports Professor Bradstock's research findings.
Note: Other factors also influenced where forest was crown burnt.
Bushfire Royal Commission Exhibit EXP-025-001-001. Fire Severity Patterns in the Victorian Fires of February 7th 2009: influences of weather, terrain and land use history: Ross Bradstock and Owen Price
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