Scientists uncover ways to help prevent forest fires from spreading

 Scientists uncover ways to help prevent forest fires from spreading

25 February 2016

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New Zealand–  Scientists from Lincoln and Auckland Universities looked at the flammability different types of trees and plants in the hope of being able to offer advice to farmers on what to plant in green firebreaks.

The experiment involved putting plant shoots on a specially designed “plant barbeque” – a 44 gallon drum cut in half with a grill on top. Samples were lit with a blow torch and their burn time recorded.

The scientists found their results confirmed what experts already knew, that gorse is the most flammable species. But Lincoln’s Dr Tim Curran said they were surprised to find New Zealand natives like rimu and silver beech were just as flammable as Australia’s eucalyptus trees.

He said green firebreaks were just one of the tools that could be used to reduce the risk of fires spreading.

“It is not a silver bullet to reduce the impact of wildfires, though it can help.”

Dr Curran warned firebreaks are unlikely to work in extreme conditions.

The research has been published in the Journal of Wildland Fire.

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