Bushfire research hub addresses the connection between fires, humans and the environment

The Hub's lead Researchers (left to right): Dr Mark Ooi (University of New South Wales), Associate Professor Matthias Boer (Western Sydney University), Prof David Bowman (University of Tasmania), Naomi Stephens (National Parks and Wildlife Service), Dr Kate Wilson (NSW Office of Environment and Heritage) and Professor Ross Bradstock (University of Wollongong).

Launched at Customs House in Sydney on Wednesday 28 February, the new Bushfire Risk Management Research Hub serves as a collaborative union between four major universities including Western Sydney University, NSW Office of the Environment and Heritage (OEH), and other state government and industry partners. Worth more than $4 million, the Hub aims to integrate the latest research on bushfire science into the planning, policies and measures needed to manage the increasing risks associated with bushfire in New South Wales.

The Hub will be led by the Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires at the University of Wollongong (UoW) in a five-year research partnership with Western Sydney University, University of Tasmania and University of New South Wales.

“The Bushfire Risk Management Research Hub will provide NSW-centered scientific research we need to ensure the safety of our communities, property and the environment,” says Assoc Prof Matthias Boer, one of the four Chief Investigators of the Hub and Lead Researcher for the Hub research conducted at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University.

“Western Sydney University’s major role is to provide research services around the use of prediction tools that map fuel moisture and type at a detailed level in New South Wales, enabling the Hub to offer advance notice of high-risk regions where the combination of fuels, urban populations and infrastructure, and weather events combine to cause major damage or even losses of life,” Assoc Prof Boer said.

Professor Ross Bradstock from the University of Wollongong, who will direct the new Hub, said the funding will deliver world-class research to address significant future challenges.

“This research will expand our knowledge for managing hazard reduction burns. This will look to enhance the effectiveness and lessen the negative impact of these burns,” Professor Bradstock said.

OEH’s Director of Ecosystem Management Science Dr Greg Summerell said the research has the potential to achieve a variety of benefits.

“Protecting life and property are paramount, but the Hub research also aims at improving air quality and protecting our environmental and cultural values,” Dr Summerell said.


1 March 2018

David Thompson, Research Media and Communications Officer