Cooma,New South Wales,Australia — THE most comprehensive study of bushfires in the Alpine area has begun on a property near Lake Eucumbene.
The project aims to better prepare authorities for what they can expect from large scale fires.
Using a site that is within site of the limit of the 2003 bushfires that ravaged much of the South East of NSW, the Highfire Project has as many as 12 areas in which it will be studying.
Communications Manager for the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), David Bruce, said he was very pleased with the turnout this week and looks forward to positive results for all local agencies involved.
“It was a good day at which we had about 80 people turn up and the best part was the we had landholders, local farmers and business owners as well as (National) Parks,” Mr Bruce said.
“Everybody had the chance to mingle and bounce ideas off each other which was especially pleasing.”
The research will focus on key elements including fuels and ecosystem functions, management of bushfires, living with bushfires, however there are some sections of the study that are currently more visible than others.
“We have a section of land that is fenced off with the aim of looking at what sorts of plants grow in grazing land as compared to, say, national parks,” Mr Bruce said.
“We will then compare the results of these types of areas and come up with a plan that will help us understand how fires behave in certain alpine areas.”
Mr Bruce said because of the scientific nature and sheer size of the study, results will not come quickly but once they do, management strategies will be implemented that could save lives and livelihoods.
Mr Bruce said the Monaro area was not the only site for the study with the ACT and Victoria also being consulted to better understand bushfires.
Member for Eden-Monaro Garry Nairn, gave his congratulations for the study, saying that only positives can be drawn from it.
“This fire research project is extremely important to the ara and indeed to the entire nation because we know how vulnerable this region is and how seriously it can be affected by fires such as those we had in 2003,” Mr Nairn said.
“While there are many different opinions, most would agree that we do not know enough about the complex issue of bushfire and fire in relation to land management.”
Mr Nairn then said he was happy to be a part of the funding behind the Highfire Project and looks forward to hearing results in the coming months.
“So this research, which is being funded by a special additional grant of Australian Government funds to the Bushfire CRC, is very welcome because it will give us some objective, scientific information on which future management decisions can be based,” he said.
“We know that research of this kind cannot provide instant answers but I commend the bushfire CRC on making this important start and look forward to hearing of its progress in the next couple of years.”
As a part of the project opening, an information evening was held at Berridale Rural Fire Centre where bushfires issues that are being studied around Australia and in New Zealand.
Ian Stewart from NSW Rural Fire Services (RFS) and Assistant Commissioner NSW RFS Shane Fitzsimmons spoke at the presentation and touched on fire safety, aerial suppression, prescribed burning, community preparedness and propertyprotection.