A new book which aims to explain the interaction between bushfires, climate change, biodiversity and ecosystems in Australia has been released by CSIRO Publishing.

Flammable Australia – Fire Regimes, Biodiversity and Ecosystems in a Changing World is a collaborative work featuring contributions from over 40 researchers in fire ecology and management.

It is edited by Professor Ross Bradstock from The University of Wollongong’s Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires, Dr Malcolm Gill from ANU’s Fenner School of Environment and Society, and Dr Dick Williams from CSIRO’s Ecosystem Sciences.

Central to the book is the detailed exploration of the fire regime, which is the cumulative pattern over time of fires and their individual characteristics (fire type, frequency, intensity, and season). The book studies the effects of the fire regime on the landscape and biota when its components change.

Flammable Australia details the complex science and the processes at play when global change, fires and landscapes interact, in the context of one of the world’s most flammable continents.

Themes in the book range from pre-history and evolution, fire behaviour, plant and animal lifecycles, fire regimes in key biomes, and the remote sensing and modelling of fire regimes, to currently emerging issues such as climate change and fire regimes, carbon dynamics, and opportunities to manage fire for multiple benefits.

“Fire and its interactions with ecosystems and people is complex science,” Dr Williams said.

“Our book illustrates some of this complexity, how competing demands for fire management come from different sectors of society, what future fire regimes may look like, and the constraints and opportunities for managing fire in the Australian landscape.”

The book will hopefully lead to a greater understanding of how fire regimes have shaped the distribution and abundance of Australia’s highly diverse plants and animals, and how to better manage Australia’s precious biodiversity in the future.

“The fire regime concept is pivotal to understanding fire and its interactions with ecosystems,” Professor Bradstock said.

“It has stood the test of time. Exploration of the ecological consequences of fire regimes is an ongoing task as shown in this book and its predecessor, and this quest provides a fundamental, rational platform for the development of innovative and effective fire management policies and practices.”

The science of fire and fire behaviour is evolving.

“This book is the third synthesis of its type I have been involved with  in the last 30 years,” Dr Gill said.

“It asks questions about enduring concepts and themes in fire ecology and management, but also looks to the future, focussing on the effects of global change on fire regimes.

“Fire ecology and management is not rocket science; it is much harder than that.”

MEDIA: Melinda Chandler. Ph: +61 3  9662 7601 E: Melinda.chandler@csiro.au