Conference 2015 – To Get You Started

Background and General Information on Fire and The Environment

Several people from Blue Mountains organisations attended the NCC Conference in May. Some of the presentations have been selected as particularly interesting; brief descriptions and links are listed below; note that some of the papers are quite large download size.

You might find some of the opinions controversial or confronting!

Nature Conservation Council of NSW 10th Biennial Bushfire Conference 26-27 May 2015, Surry Hills, Sydney

NCC Conference papers and links

General link

Abstracts booklet can be downloaded at

Links specific to a selection of papers

Opening address, Kate Smolski

CEO, Nature Conservation Council NSW

“ … Good fire-management policy and practice could include both effective risk mitigation and positive environmental-management outcomes, and those two things did not have to be mutually exclusive.”

Opening address – Using fire for community and environmental outcomes

Robert Quirk

New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, National Parks and Wildlife Service

In the opening address Robert Quirk asserts that NPWS is fundamentally committed to conserving biodiversity through the use of fire in our lands through ecological burning and for the protection of conversation and of natural cultural heritage values including threatened species both on and off Park and Reserve. “ … We’re talking at this gathering about the use of fire for community and environmental outcomes and one of the aspects of this I want to touch on briefly is the change of the Service from fire fighters to fire lighters.”

Setting the scene: climate change and the changing fire risk

Professor Lesley Hughes

Macquarie University, Climate Council of Australia

The paper explores “… the multiple ways in which climate change can affect fire risk. It can affect all four major factors contributing to fire risk – ignitions, fuel load, fuel condition and weather. It can affect ignitions, not in terms of the number of 10-year-olds with a box of matches that go out and light fires, but in terms of lightning strikes. Lightning increases as the weather gets warmer and more humid. Climate can affect fuel load in several ways – if we get a wetter summer, for example, we get more vegetation, if we get a drier summer, we can have less vegetation. Fuel condition, however, is more dependent on the weather in the preceding few months, up and down, The one factor where climate change has a very clear, directional impact, is bushfire weather… As we get more extreme high temperatures, we also get more extreme bushfire weather.”

When is burning good for the bush?

Naomi Rea

Mulga Data Services

The paper provides possible research areas and considerations that might inform a balanced approach for fire in ecological restoration, looking at both risks and benefits.

Fuel load, structure and flammability of weeds as key factors in Australian weed classification frameworks

Felipe Aires

University of Sydney

The paper outlines a thesis. The main idea behind thesis “…was that there is already a lot of knowledge about each one of the components forming fire regimes for each type of native fuel types. There are fairly good ways to predict fire behaviour and intensity in native fuels and the empirical models keep being improved.

However, as the fuels shift from native to invasive species the cycle changes and the limited knowledge on fire behaviour of these emergent fuel types may have many practical consequences.”

The State Mine Fire, October 2013 – Patterns of vegetation recovery

Roger Lembit

Gingra Ecological Surveys

Roger Lembit’s study includes Newnes Plateau Shrub Swamp. “… There are other interesting habitats surrounding sandstone formations known as pagodas.”

Thanks to Jenny Hill for compiling this list.