Impact Minute: Professor Mike Clarke on the environmental impact of fire

Fire is a global problem and it’s only
going to increase with climate change. With my colleague Andrew Bennett, we’ve had a team of 10 scientists studying the impact of fire in the Mallee regions of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. An area about the size of Belgium and did a systematic survey of the birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, and plants in those sites in relation to how long it had been since those sites have been burnt. And that created one of the biggest data sets in the world, in terms of fire ecology. And the impact of those fires we’ve discovered can last for half a century to a century. As it takes that kind of time for their homes to recover, to be rebuilt by nature. Our research has influenced government policy, because getting the mix right is really tricky. If you have too much fire the things the animals and plants need won’t recover in the time between fires. We’ve been really delighted to see the government listened to our research and change their policies as a consequence of the research we’ve been doing.