Fire managers are increasingly relying on fuel management and suppression efforts to control the impacts of shifting fire regimes. Previous research has demonstrated that when properly applied, these management actions can reduce risks. However, the placement, timing, and extent of fuel management or suppression is critical to risk reduction. Moreover, it is unclear how cost-effective such management actions currently are in relation to the provided risk reduction.
The first stage of this project is to collate data provided by the Victorian State Government on the cost of different management actions i.e., planned burning, mulching, and fuel breaks, as well as the cost of suppressing fires. We will fit models to this cost data to identify the factors driving up costs-efficiency. We are also attempting to capture the costs of impacts from historical fires. These cost data will include the monetary losses accrued through loss of houses, impacts on infrastructure and property, alongside the more indirect impacts on loss of tourism or lost investments.
The second stage of this project will utilise the FLARE’s Fire Regimes Operations and Simulations Tool (FROST). We will be simulating fire regimes over six regions of Victoria under a range of current and projected future climate scenarios. These simulations include different scenarios of fuel reduction and suppression. We will assess the impacts of each set of simulations on a range of assets including people, property, infrastructure, agriculture, and biodiversity.
The last stage of this project uses a cost-benefit analysis to compare across the different scenarios. The aim of this stage is to determine how much risk reduction can be achieved by each management action (in terms of risk to assets) and how that risk reduction results in a cost savings due to reduced impacts i.e., the costs of repairing roads. We can then compare the direct risk reduction and cost savings to the cost per hectare of each management type to determine which management action or combinations of actions provides the greatest cost-benefit ratio. The results of this research will help inform regionally specific, strategic management plans but will also improve state-wide estimates of cost-efficiency for fire management.
Project timeline: 08/2021 – 06/2023