The transition from an Indigenous to a European influenced fire regime at Lake Werri Berri, south-east Australia
The drivers of fire regimes prior to the European occupation of Australia are still contentious, with some advocating regimes dominated by anthropogenic ignitions and others advocating a climate source or mixture of these elements. Here, we examine an 850-year history of fire regimes at Lake Werri Berri in south-east Australia, prior to and following European occupation. Macroscopic charcoal and FTIR spectroscopy were used to infer broad changes of the fire regime in proximity to the lake. We found little change through much of the 850-year period and most interesting, no apparent change following the initial displacement of Indigenous peoples and the introduction of farming and woodcutting to the region by Europeans. From the mid-20th Century onwards, there was an increase in both area burnt and fire severity or intensity, likely the result of increased fuel load and connectivity following an extended period of increased precipitation and heavier recreational land usage, which likely led to an increase in anthropogenic ignitions.
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Federation University Australia