Climatic and edaphic gradients predict variation in wildland-fuel hazard in south-eastern Australia

30 October 2019

McColl-Gausden, Sarah; Bennett, Lauren; Duff, Thomas; Cawson, Jane; Penman, Trent

Understanding spatial variation in wildland fuel is central to predicting wildfire behaviour and current and future fire regimes. Vegetation (plant material) – both live (biomass) and dead (necromass) – constitutes most aspects of wildland fuel (hereafter ‘fuel’). It therefore is likely that factors influencing vegetation structure and composition – climate, soils, disturbance – also will influence fuel structure and associated hazard. Nonetheless, these relationships are poorly understood in temperate environments. In this study, we used an extensive database of fuel hazard assessments to determine the extent to which environmental variables (climatic conditions and soil type) and disturbance (fire) can predict fuel hazard in native vegetation across south-eastern Australia. Fuel hazard scores are based on the horizontal and vertical continuity of fine fuels (dead plant material