© 2020 by the authors. Environmental gradients or biophysical parameters such as climate, topography and geology drive landscape-scale vegetation structure, species distribution and productivity. These gradients have the potential to provide detailed, fine-scale spatial prediction of the accumulation of bushfire fuels and hence fire hazard by elucidating patterns in field information in a consistent and repeatable way. Rapid visual assessment of bushfire fuel hazard via ratings provides fire and land management agencies with a measure of the probability of first attack success and general suppression difficulty of bushfires at a location. This study used generalised additive modelling to examine how measures of fuel hazard, recorded for locations in New South Wales, Australia, varied in response to environmental gradients and whether these gradients could be used to predict fuel hazard at a landscape scale. We found that time since last fire, temperature and precipitation were strong predictors of fuel hazard. Our model predictions for fuel hazard outperformed current operational methods; however, both methods tended to overestimate lower fuel hazard and underestimate higher fuel hazard. Biophysical modelling of fuel hazard provides significant advancement for predicting fuel hazard. These models have the capability to be improved and developed as additional fuel hazard data, fire history mapping and remote sensing of environmental variables advance both spatially and temporally.
Jenkins, M., Bedward, M., Price, O. & Bradstock, R. (2020). Modelling bushfire fuel hazard using biophysical parameters. Forests, 11 (9),