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An assessment of fuel characteristics and fuel loads in the dry Sclerophyll Forests of South-East Tasmania


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Bresnehan, SJ 2003 , 'An assessment of fuel characteristics and fuel loads in the dry Sclerophyll Forests of South-East Tasmania', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The amount of available wildfire fuel is one of the critical factors for
determining fire behaviour and is the only factor that can be easily managed.
Knowledge of the rates and patterns of fuel buildup is therefore essential to effective
fire management, both for wildfire incident management and on-going land
management. Fifty-nine sites throughout south-eastern Tasmania were sampled for
fuel loads, floristic and environmental data. A curve-fitting process was applied to the
field data to produce fuel accumulation curves for the major dry sclerophyll
vegetation types in the study area. Once developed, the fuel accumulation curves can
be used to underpin other tools, such as GIS systems and field guides.
A range of ordering schemes were applied to the data to determine whether the
traditional classification of sites by canopy dominant species yielded the best results.
Sites were categorised by phytosociological association, by geological substrate, by
average rainfall and by the density of the canopy trees. These orderings were chosen
as they conform to known major environmental determinant factors in dry sclerophyll
bushland and were shown to have statistically reliable relationships to fuel loads.
The potential for developing a field guide for land managers and field officers
based on the modelled fuel curves was recognised, and a system developed for
trialling. This method for rapidly assessing fuel weight in the field relies entirely on
simple field measurements and provides an acceptable estimate in a mere fraction of
the time required using more traditional methods.
The results of these studies provide new tools for managing fire in the southeastern
Tasmanian region and an appropriate methodology for further studies. The
possibility of using other fuel classifications is demonstrated and indicates new
avenues of investigations.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Bresnehan, SJ
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