Shoot flammability patterns among plant species of the wildland–urban interface in the fire-prone Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area

Murray, BR
Hawthorne, T
Curran, Timothy
Krix, DW
Wallace, MI
Young, K
Murray, ML
Morley, E
Huber-Smith, N
Webb, JK
Journal Article
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::410499 Environmental management not elsewhere classified , ANZSRC::300799 Forestry sciences not elsewhere classified , ANZSRC::310399 Ecology not elsewhere classified , ANZSRC::310308 Terrestrial ecology , ANZSRC::3007 Forestry sciences , ANZSRC::4104 Environmental management , ANZSRC::4406 Human geography
Background: Mitigation of wildfires at the wildland–urban interface (WUI) will be enhanced by understanding the flammability of plants growing in this zone. Aims: We aimed to: (1) compare shoot flammability among wildland native, and both urban native and urban exotic ornamental plants; (2) quantify relationships between shoot traits and flammability; and (3) establish flammability scores to distinguish low- from high-flammability species. Methods: Flammability and traits of field-collected shoots were measured and relationships quantified in 44 species from the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Australia. Key results: In our study area, urban exotic plants were less flammable than wildland and urban native plants. Slow-igniting shoots had high fuel moisture and bulk density; short-burning shoots had low bulk density and volume; shoots recording low maximum temperatures had high fuel moisture, low bulk density and volume; and shoots with low biomass consumed in flames had high fuel moisture and low volume. Our novel flammability scores distinguished low-flammability (e.g. Lophostemon confertus) from high-flammability native species (e.g. Callistemon citrinus). Conclusions and implications: Low-flammability plantings at the WUI should preferably use native species given potential ecological impacts of exotics. We suggest that future work should seek to identify broader suites of low-flammability native species.
© 2023 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing on behalf of IAWF.
Creative Commons Rights
Access Rights