Modelling the determinants of ignition in the Sydney Basin, Australia: implications for future management
Variations in area burnt by fire are governed by four processes: biomass growth, availability to burn, fire weather and ignitions. Insight into these how these processes are shaped by biophysical and human influences is required to underpin the development of effective management strategies. Patterns of natural and arson ignitions were examined within the densely populated Sydney region of south-eastern Australia to determine the extent to which management can alter the risk of ignition. Arson ignitions were more likely on ridges in association with human infrastructure, i.e. roads and houses. Lightning ignitions also occurred more frequently on ridges, but at greater distances from human infrastructure. These patterns are consistent with those reported in studies from forested regions in the northern hemisphere. Fuel age had a variable effect with lightning more likely in older fuels (>25 years) and arson more likely in younger fuels (<10 >years). Probability of both ignition types increased under more severe fire weather. Climate change is predicted to increase the severity of fire weather and is therefore likely to result in an increase in ignition frequency in the Sydney Basin. Urban expansion is also likely to have significant effects on ignitions and resultant risks to people and property via an increase in the probability of arson ignitions.