Burning for a better future
The scale and force of last summer’s disastrous bushfire season were unlike any in living memory – and in our rapidly changing climate, last Summer’s fires are unlikely to be a one-off event. The future health of people and the environment hinges on better understanding and managing the risks. This is where the NSW Bushfire Risk Management Research Hub – hosted by UOW and led by world-leading fire ecologist and Director of the Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires (CERMB) Senior Professor Ross Bradstock – comes in. “The primary thrust of the Hub is understanding how we can best manage fire, particularly in a planned way, to significantly reduce the risks uncontrolled fire poses to health, infrastructure and environmental values,” Professor Bradstock explains. “We’ve long managed fire to protect lives, property and biodiversity, but emerging research has thrown up significant new challenges, including the effects of smoke on human populations. For example, during the last fire season an estimated 400 premature deaths in south-eastern Australia can be attributed to smoke from wildfires accumulating over cities.”
A research partnership between UOW, Western Sydney University, University of New South Wales and University of Tasmania, the Hub was established in 2017 with $4 million, five-year NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment funding.