Controlled burning in the bush.
CSIRO bushfire research is improving the understanding of fire, and improving technologies and strategies to save lives and limit damage.
12 February 2009 | Updated 15 January 2013
Bushfires in Australia
Bushfire has been part of the Australian landscape for millions of years. Much of our vegetation has evolved with fire, and like the vegetation in other harsh and dry environments, it has developed characteristics that promote the spread of fire.
Bushfires are most common over the savannas of tropical Australia, where some parts of the land burn on an annual basis. However, the southeast, where the majority of the population resides, is susceptible to large wildfires that threaten life and property.
CSIRO bushfire researchers have surveyed all major bushfires involving significant house loss since the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983.
CSIRO has been involved in bushfire research for more than forty years. This has focused on:
- understanding and predicting bushfire behaviour
- the impact of bushfires on infrastructure
- ecological responses to fire
- the impact of climate change on bushfire risk
- pollutants and greenhouse gases as a result of bushfires.
Research results have been used to respond to bushfire threat through weather warnings, fire location information, fire-fighter training, predicting fire behaviour and informing fire safety policy.
Key research achievements
CSIRO has a string of notable achievements including the development of the Forest Fire Danger Index in 1967, which today forms the basis of Australia's well known fire-risk warning system.
CSIRO researchers have developed tools, methods, guides and training materials that are in operational use by relevant fire emergency services agencies across Australia.
The bushfire research at CSIRO is part of a large scale collaborative effort with the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre.
It draws on the resources of the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, and state and territory based fire agencies.
Find out more about CSIRO's Bushfires research.