Publication Details

Bradstock, R. A., Williams, R. J. & Gill, A. Malcolm. (2012). Future fire regimes of Australian ecosystems: new perspectives on enduring questions of management. In R. A. Bradstock, A. Malcolm. Gill & R. J. Williams (Eds.), Flammable Australia: Fire Regimes, Biodiversity and Ecosystems in a Changing World (pp. 307-324). Collingwood, Vic: CSIRO Publishing.


This book provides a contemporary overview of the state of knowledge of fire as a shaper of biodiversity and ecosystems in Australia, along with insights into the way in which a 'flammable Australia' may fare under future climate change. It comes at the end of a decade (2000 to 2010) of extraordinary fire activity in Australia, matched by heightened public interest in fire and debate about its management. The decade commenced with major fire activity between 2000 and 2002 in the central and north western deserts (Nano et al. 2012, Chapter 9), at scales not seen in decades. In the southeast, fires in 2001-02 2002-03, 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2008-09 burned over four million hectares across New South Wales, Victoria, south-east Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. The toll in human terms was significant: for example, in the 2009 Victorian fires, more than 2000 buildings and 173 lives were lost, along with major losses of crops, plantations and potential yields of water in key catchments (Teague et al. 2010). The staccato of recent major outbreaks of fire in southern temperate and desert regions was accompanied by the incessant annual rhythm of fire across the vast savannas of northern Australia (average ca. 385000 km2 burned each year; from 1997-2004; Russell-Smith et al. 2007). The extent offire in the interior and tropics therefore dwarfs that which occurs in temperate regions, even in an era of major fire in the latter (Maier and Russell-Smith 2012, Chapter 4). Fires in the heavily populated temperate regions attract saturation coverage in the media, but relatively little attention has been paid to fire issues in the interior and tropics. This situation is changing due to new management initiatives in northern Australia (Cook et al. 2012, Chapter 14; Williams et al. 2012, Chapter 13).