Frequent prescribed burning in resprouting eucalypt forests: are we burning away the bush

The next topic at the Creswick Seminar Series is, Frequent prescribed burning in resprouting eucalypt forests: are we burning way the bush? presented by Dr Luke Collins Department of Ecology, Environment and Evolution, Latrobe University.

Friday the 30th of June 9:30-10:30 am
Stage 2 Lecture Theatre, Creswick Campus School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, Faculty of Science, The University of Melbourne, Water Street, Creswick. This is also available by webinar @ https://unimelb.zoom.us/j/915371147

The management of forest ecosystems to maintain and increase carbon storage is a global concern, as carbon sequestration has been identified as an effective strategy to help mitigate the effects of climate change. Prescribed burning for wildfire risk reduction has the potential to increase fire frequency across many forest communities. Changes to fire return intervals resulting from prescribed burning may alter demographic processes and growth of tree species, and consequently carbon storage, though such effects remain under examined in resprouting eucalypt forests.

This talk presents findings from two long-term (>25 years) experimental studies to provide insight into the potential effects of prescribed burning regimes on carbon storage and eucalypt demography in forest communities of southern Australia. Frequent prescribed burning was found to reduce standing tree biomass and above ground carbon via increased tree mortality and reduced growth rates. Analysis of mortality rates over time suggest that the effect of prescribed burning may be cumulative, whereby trees that experienced many burns (>4) have a lower likelihood of survival in subsequent fires than trees that have experienced few (<3) or no burns. Strong interspecific differences in the effects of frequent burning on mortality are also apparent, indicating potential for shifts in eucalypt community composition in response to changes in fire frequency.

These findings indicate that frequent prescribed burning can reduce forest carbon biomass and alter the structure and composition of eucalypt communities, though inherent landscape and climatically driven variability in prescribed burn patchiness suggest that broad scale changes are unlikely.

 

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