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Fire and fuel in Tasmanian buttongrass moorlands : regimes, characteristics, behaviour and management


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Marsden-Smedley, Jon B 1998 , 'Fire and fuel in Tasmanian buttongrass moorlands : regimes, characteristics, behaviour and management', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The aims of this thesis are to examine the fire regimes, fuel characteristics, fire
behaviour and fire management of Tasmanian buttongrass moorlands. Major
changes have occurred to the fire regime of southwest Tasmania over the past
170 years. The fire regime has changed from an Aboriginal regime of mostly
frequent low intensity buttongrass moorland fires to the early European fire
regime of frequent high intensity fires in all vegetation types, to a regime of low
to medium intensity buttongrass moorland fires and finally to the current regime
of very few fires. Buttongrass moorland fuel accumulation rates in western and
southwestern Tasmania can be divided into two productivity groups, based on
geological type. Within each productivity group, the vegetation cover and/or the
time since the last fire can be used to model fuel load and the dead fuel load. Dead
fuel moistures in buttongrass moorlands can be predicted from the relative
humidity and dew point temperature. The main influences on buttongrass
moorland rates of fire spread are wind speed, dead fuel moisture and age. Flame
height in these moorlands is highly correlated with the fuel consumption rate,
which in turn is controlled by the rate of fire spread, fuel load and dead fuel
moisture. Operational fire behaviour models have been developed which use the
wind speed, temperature, relative humidity, age and site productivity to predict
the fire spread rate and flame height. The prescriptions for burning buttongrass
moorlands have also been refined. Wildland fire management is a major problem
in western and southwestern Tasmania. This is mainly due to the extensive area
of fire-adapted and fire-dependent vegetation, the small area burnt by natural
fires, the high incidence of arson in some areas and across much of the region,
the old-growth nature of the buttongrass moorland vegetation. If we are going to
preserve the ecological values of the region whilst minimising the economic and
social costs of management, we are going to have to reintroduce fire into the
region. Such reintroductions of fire will need to be performed in a highly
sophisticated manner in order to maximise the potential that they will achieve the
desired outcomes.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Marsden-Smedley, Jon B
Keywords: Fire ecology, Heathlands, Gymnoschoenus sphaerocephalus
Copyright Holders: The Author
Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1998. Includes bibliographical references. Available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended

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