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Land management practices associated with house loss in wildfires

Gibbons, Philip, van Bommel, Linda, Gill, A Malcolm, Cary, Geoffrey J, Driscoll, Don A, Bradstock, Ross A, Knight, Emma, Moritz, Max A, Stephens, Scott L and Lindenmayer, David B 2012, Land management practices associated with house loss in wildfires, PLoS One, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 1-7, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029212.

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Title Land management practices associated with house loss in wildfires
Author(s) Gibbons, Philip
van Bommel, Linda
Gill, A Malcolm
Cary, Geoffrey J
Driscoll, Don AORCID iD for Driscoll, Don A orcid.org/0000-0002-1560-5235
Bradstock, Ross A
Knight, Emma
Moritz, Max A
Stephens, Scott L
Lindenmayer, David B
Journal name PLoS One
Volume number 7
Issue number 1
Article ID e29212
Start page 1
End page 7
Total pages 7
Publisher Public Library of Science
Place of publication San Fransico, Calif.
Publication date 2012-01-18
ISSN 1932-6203
Summary Losses to life and property from unplanned fires (wildfires) are forecast to increase because of population growth in peri-urban areas and climate change. In response, there have been moves to increase fuel reduction--clearing, prescribed burning, biomass removal and grazing--to afford greater protection to peri-urban communities in fire-prone regions. But how effective are these measures? Severe wildfires in southern Australia in 2009 presented a rare opportunity to address this question empirically. We predicted that modifying several fuels could theoretically reduce house loss by 76%-97%, which would translate to considerably fewer wildfire-related deaths. However, maximum levels of fuel reduction are unlikely to be feasible at every house for logistical and environmental reasons. Significant fuel variables in a logistic regression model we selected to predict house loss were (in order of decreasing effect): (1) the cover of trees and shrubs within 40 m of houses, (2) whether trees and shrubs within 40 m of houses was predominantly remnant or planted, (3) the upwind distance from houses to groups of trees or shrubs, (4) the upwind distance from houses to public forested land (irrespective of whether it was managed for nature conservation or logging), (5) the upwind distance from houses to prescribed burning within 5 years, and (6) the number of buildings or structures within 40 m of houses. All fuel treatments were more effective if undertaken closer to houses. For example, 15% fewer houses were destroyed if prescribed burning occurred at the observed minimum distance from houses (0.5 km) rather than the observed mean distance from houses (8.5 km). Our results imply that a shift in emphasis away from broad-scale fuel-reduction to intensive fuel treatments close to property will more effectively mitigate impacts from wildfires on peri-urban communities.
Language eng
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0029212
Field of Research 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type JO1 Original creative work - Visual art work
Copyright notice ©2012 Gibbons et al.
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30078629

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Medicine
Open Access Collection
Centre for Integrative Ecology
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.