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  • Wildfires: Can we adapt to live with them?

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Wildfires: Can we adapt to live with them?

Source(s):  Deutsche Welle (DW)

By Tamsin Walker


Rachael Nolan, a fire ecologist at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University, is part of a team working on gaining a better understanding of when and where fire might strike.

She and researchers from a network of universities across the country are exploring ways to combine data on weather forecasts with satellite monitoring of vegetation dryness to create a warning system that would "get information out to people so they have time to start preparing their properties, make sure they don't have vegetation close to their homes and that there is good defensible space".

Planning homes outside fire-risk areas

Two frequently cited preventative measures relate to the where and how of building homes to accommodate a growing Australian population. According to Richard Thornton, CEO of the Melbourne-based non-profit Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, old policies and settlement patterns are proving "inadequate for the challenges of the future," and often intensify the exposure to risk. 


He says the choice of where to build should factor in the land's geography and any previous history of natural disaster — be that fire or floods on low-lying coastal regions — and that new structures should be as hazard-resistant as possible. But he also sees a need for a change in thinking.

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  • Publication date 07 Sep 2020

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