A fire can’t burn if it doesn’t have enough fuel, so one of the ways of minimising the impact of bushfire is through fuel reduction. An effective way to remove fuel is to burn it. This is termed hazard reduction burning, or prescribed burning, and is done under controlled conditions.
In this video, Dr Neil Burrows, Senior Research Scientist at Parks and Wildlife Western Australia, provides a short overview of why prescribed burns take place.
DR NEIL BURROWS, Senior Research Scientist: There are two factors that largely determine the severity or the intensity of a bushfire. And that is the weather conditions, and the amount of fuel, the amount of live and dead vegetation in the bushland that burns during a bushfire. We can’t control the weather, but we can manage the accumulation of flammable vegetation. And we can do this by prescribed burning, pretty much the same way that Aboriginal people managed the bushland for thousands of years. With our prescribed burning program, we aim to work with nature. So we take the cues from nature that tell us how often we should burn and what season we should burn in. This will enable us to both reduce the flammability of the fuels to provide some protection for communities, but also to ensure that our prescribed burning program is not harmful to plants and animals, and is in fact beneficial to plants and animals.