Bushfires in Australian Savannas

In Australia, Bushfires are considered as one of the most destructive forces of nature. Firefighters have risked their lives each year trying to control bushfires. Despite the fact that bushfires occur naturally, the main cause of the spread is loss of biodiversity, human activities and lack of effective household safety responses. Bush fires have resulted in massive destruction leading to personal hardship and loss of life to families and communities.  Australia is considered the world’s hot and driest continent, which leads to drought and many regular occurrences of bushfires that sadly, over the years, have become Australia’s weather cycle. Australia has had a history of bushfires. Some of the tragedies include the Tasmanian fires in 1967, the Ash Wednesday in 1983, and the New South Wales bush fires that occurred in 1994. These bushfires leave a lot of dames with lives, houses, and buildings lost. This has made bushfires to be high of natural disasters in Australia. The Australian climate is prone to bushfires since it is hot. In the Southeast, there are occasional strong winds during the summertime cold fronts that can result in extreme fires. Many of Australia’s native plans are prone to fires since most consist of high oil content that makes them burn easily. The dominant trees in Australia are eucalyptus, which is highly flammable. Relatively, the big areas that consist of dry grass in the mid-late summer are also prone to burning.

Hayward et al. (2016). Could biodiversity loss have increased Australia’s bushfire threat?

The article reveals that the extinction of various range of mammal fauna has contributed to the increase of fuel that has the potential of affecting the rate at which fire spreads in Australia. Considerably, the article indicates that leaf litter is the main source of flammable material that allows the extent of fire in the savanna, especially due to the eucalypt communities in Australia. Over the years, Australia has suffered the death and loss of small-sized ground-dwelling mammal species. The loss of these species in Australia means increased fires due to increased accumulation of fuel.

Murphy et al. (2010). Frequent fires reduce tree growth in northern Australian savannas: implications for tree demography and carbon sequestration

This article offers essential information about how tropical savannas bring about the fire-prone ecosystem in Australia. Considerably, reducing the bushfires in Australia entails being able to reduce the fire frequency in the tropical savanna. The article revealed the long term effects of fire regimes in the savanna. Frequent fires have reduced the growth rates of trees as well as the global carbon sink. Savanna ecosystem consists of 25% of Australia’s terrestrial surface, thus offering an essential ecosystem service by the water cycles and carbon as well as the maintenance of biodiversity. The current composition, structure as well as distribution of Australian Savanna has coevolved due to fire which has influenced the biochemical and biophysical processes.

McLennan, J., Paton, D., & Wright, L. (2015). At-risk householders’ responses to potential and actual bushfire threat

Several settled areas within Australia are at a great threat of bushfire. All rural and state fire services have the public bushfire safety education programs which have been used to offer advice and information to residents about the dangers of bushfires, planning, and preparing to escape the danger and the household risk assessment. This article has focused on the disastrous bushfires that happened in Victoria to assess the preparedness of residents. The results showed that a number of houses had low levels of pre and post bushfire insights of planning and preparation. This means that despite the agencies in the community education program, a considerable percentage of residents have lacked a potential response to the bushfire threats.

The ignition and spread of bushfires can be caused by human activities, natural reasons such as lightening, loss of biodiversity and lack of effective bushfire safety programs. These articles reveal the environmental circumstances around bushfires in Australia as well as the household preparedness and response to the natural disaster through educational programs offered. The Australian bush fires have been severe since the eucalyptus tree leaves contain large quantities of oil, thus making it possible for them to burn very fast. Many animals burn or die out of smoke since the bush fires might be moving so fast from different directions. Considerably, there is a linkage between the impact of changes in the ecosystem and the potential of households to respond to the bushfires. This is because a lot of changes in the ecosystems are as a result of human activity. For instance, most of life is damaged, and the property is lost in the bushfires, which occurs around the edges of the cities, probably surrounded by highly flammable vegetation. Since a number of populated areas are at a high threat of bushfire, it is important to understand how the changes in the ecosystem through biochemical and biophysical processes may lead to fires that lead to changes in function, structure, and composition of the ecosystem.


Hayward, M. W., Ward‐Fear, G., L’Hotellier, F., Herman, K., Kabat, A. P., & Gibbons, J. P. (2016). Could biodiversity loss have increased Australia’s bushfire threat?. Animal Conservation19(6), 490-497.

McLennan, J., Paton, D., & Wright, L. (2015). At-risk householders’ responses to potential and actual bushfire threat: an analysis of findings from seven Australian post-bushfire interview studies 2009–2014. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction12, 319-327.

Murphy, B. P., RUSSELL‐SMITH, J. E. R. E. M. Y., & Prior, L. D. (2010). Frequent fires reduce tree growth in northern Australian savannas: implications for tree demography and carbon sequestration. Global Change Biology16(1), 331-343.


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