Fire Risk Modelling

Fire risk modelling provides robust calculations of risk at local and landscape scales. This helps to guide decision-making and management for assets including people, property, economic, environmental, cultural and infrastructure.

Mitigating risk from wildfire is a balancing act

A better understanding of the economic, social and environmental consequences of major wildfires is important for reducing impacts to businesses, communities, individuals and ecosystems. Fire and land management agencies around the world invest significant resources to try to reduce the impacts of wildfires. Strategies are largely focused on fuel modification with the primary aim being the protection of human life and property. However, land and fire agencies have limited budgets for undertaking fuel management and this is further complicated by the environmental, social and financial risks of undertaking fire-based fuel treatments.

Risk modelling helps support land management decisions

Wildfire risk modelling increases our ability to predict fire behaviour and the associated impacts on human and environmental features. Our research is focused on helping agencies and organisations quantify fire risk decisions and optimise management expenditure to reduce the risk of fire to people, property and other assets. Our risk modelling approach provides a systematic method for assessing trade-offs between different management strategies, with estimates of residual risk and cost-effectiveness across a range of values and assets types. Through the FROST software developed by our team we also have the capacity to integrate future climate scenarios, enabling the assessment of risk under a changing climate. Our work in this field aims to provide robust calculations of risk (at the local and landscape scale) to assist decision making and inform on-ground management for a range of assets including people, property, economic, environmental, cultural and infrastructure.

We use a range of approaches to model risk across Australia

We use a range of modelling approaches to quantify risk and specialise in fire simulations, spatial data analysis, Bayesian Network modelling, fire regime simulations and expert elicitation. Our team is currently working on a range of projects across Australia, with a diverse range of research partners including both government and commercial agencies.

Projects we are currently working on in this field

Future fire regimes increase risks to obligate-seeder forests

Many species are adapted to a particular fire regime and major deviations from that regime may lead to localised extinction. Here, we quantify immaturity risks to an obligate-seeder forest tree using an objectively designed climate model ...

The Prescribed Burning Atlas: a new system to plan effective prescribed burns

Planned or prescribed burning is widespread in forests and grasslands across Australia. The primary aims of these programs are for: hazard or fuel reduction: prescribed burning is used to reduce the amount of fuel in order to reduce the ...

Optimizing bushfire management in the Upper Yarra Water Supply Catchments

The forested catchments of the Upper Yarra Water reservoir are a vital part of Melbourne’s water supply. However, large-scale high-severity bushfires are a natural occurrence in these forests and bushfire risk is a key consideration for ...

Reducing landscape fire risk with green fire breaks

Currently in Australia the biodiversity crisis and wildfire risks are in direct opposition to one another. Increased wildfire risks under climate change place pressures on sectors and organisations attempting to revegetate the landscape and ...

Wildfire evidence briefs

How do we translate complex and evolving scientific knowledge about wildfire into clear guidance for decision makers and the public? Health and medicine have a strong track record of synthesising and summarising complex information on specific ...

Fine-scaled prioritisation of prescribed burning

FLARE Wildfire Research is working closely with fire agencies in south-eastern Australia to model risk and the mitigation available from different management strategies. Much of this work generates landscape-scale insights into treatment ...

Dynamic fire modelling and communication

This University of Melbourne-funded project builds on two related projects, Wildfire risk communication and New wildfire risk models, to develop a unified, dynamic platform for modelling and communicating wildfire risk. The key advance in this ...

New wildfire risk models

Scientists frequently build statistical models to explain aspects of bushfire risk, such as fire frequency, fire severity and seasonality. However, these models are often developed for specific case study areas and are generally not maintained ...

Assessing impacts of fire regime intensification in fire-adapted forests

Sclerophyll forests in southeast Australia have typically evolved alongside fire, and generally recover from single fire events. Anthropogenic climate change is increasing fire prevalence which means these forests are increasingly exposed to ...

Other Capabilities

Fire Behaviour

Fire behaviour research considers the mechanisms of fire spread across the landscape. Uncovering the physics behind it through innovative and novel approaches helps us develop and improve predictive models of fire behaviour.

Ecosystem Interactions

Our work aims to understand how fire regimes affect plants, animals and ecosystem function and in-turn how ecological processes such as post-fire vegetation growth interact to influence fire behaviour and risk.

Future Fire

Predicted hotter and drier climates will modify wildfire intensity, extent, frequency, and seasonality. The Future Fires program will use strategic foresight and cutting-edge models to anticipate and help prepare for the wildfires of the future.