The Tropical Savannas CRC has secured $400,000 from the Australian
Greenhouse Office to study the greenhouse gas impact of north
Australia’s bushfires. The study will underpin
innovative ways of reducing tropical Australia’s
It might come as a surprise to many, but the greatest contribution
to northern Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from
bushfires—which are estimated to release the greenhouse
equivalent of over 6 million tonnes of CO
each year in the Northern Territory alone.
These fires can be monsters: in a couple of hot and windy weeks in
October last year a blaze in the NT burnt out almost 60,000 square
km, almost three-quarters the area of Tasmania, making it one of
Australia’s largest recorded bushfires.
The leader of the study, consultant fire ecologist Dr. Jeremy
Russell-Smith, said we should now be able to limit these vast, late
dry season wildfires, significantly reducing greenhouse
“There is a rapidly improving capacity to control fires in
northern Australia with Aboriginal communities and ranger
groups, pastoralists and fire control officers,” he said.
“These groups are now cooperating and having access to
better information and so we hope that these huge fires will soon
be a thing of the past,” he said.
The study aims to pin down the impact that this improved fire
management will have on the northern savannas’
greenhouse gas emissions.
It will draw on the latest satellite images and analysis techniques
to obtain more reliable estimates of how much greenhouse gas is
emitted by bushfires. The study will use the expertise of the
WA Department of Land Information, CSIRO and the Bushfires
Council of the NT and work in collaboration with pastoralists and
rangers from the Northern Land Council.