Flammability of Tasmanian plants and plant communities

Projects in this research theme will focus on determining the flammability of a spectrum of native and non-native plant species in Tasmania and the potential causes of intraspecies variability, such as seasonal (phenological), ecotypic, and environmental factors. An additional component of this theme is understanding the flammability or organic soils which support nearly all the vegetation in the Tasmanian Wilderness World heritage Area.

The flammability of plant species exerts a powerful influence on the ability to control bushfires. For instance, eucalypts are inherently more flammable than many rainforest trees, and fires in eucalypt forests are typically more intense and difficult to control. However, until recently objective assessments of plant flammability have been limited given the difficulty in making consistent flammability measurements.

This study will seek to quantify plant species flammability under different conditions by using a specially designed and built ‘plant BBQ’ apparatus, which is a key component of the newly built Firelab3 facility, and enables rapid assessment of foliage flammability, thus contributing to improved fire management.  The Firelab3 facility can also be used to undertake experiments on the flammability of organic soils.


David Bowman, Stefania Ondei, Grant Williamson and Lynda Prior

Fire Centre Research Hub, The University of Tasmania
Private Bag 55, Hobart TAS 7001, Australia
Acknowledgement of Country:
‘The Fire Centre acknowledges the Palawa and Pakana people as the traditional and ongoing custodians of lutruwita (Tasmania), paying respect to their culture and identity which has been bound up with the Land, Sea, Waterways and Sky for generations. The Fire Centre commits to being culturally inclusive and respectful in our relationships”
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