Publication Details

Zylstra, P. (2013). The historical influence of fire on the flammability of subalpine Snowgum forest and woodland. The Victorian Naturalist, 130 (6), 232-239.


It is widely assumed that regardless of the community in question, recently burnt forests are less flammable than long-unburnt areas, so that the fire-flammability feedback is negative. An alternative hypothesis has been proposed for Snowgum forest/woodland based on deterministic fire behaviour modelling, describing a posi tive feedback where mature forests are significantly less flammable than more recently burnt areas. To test this, the relative area burnt by wildfire was examined for 53 years of mapped fire history in 190 000 ha of subalpine Snowgum across the Australian Alps National Parks in south-eastern Australia. Results supported the deterministic modelling, demonstrating that where forest has been burnt in the previous 14 years, subsequent fires have burnt 2.3 times as much area as they did in older forests (p = 0.05). These findings provide validation for the modelling and suggest far reaching consequences for subalpine and alpine areas in the context of a warm ing climate.