Recovery from 2019-20 summer fires ‘will be prolonged’

It will take many years to restore the economy and infrastructure of bushfire-impacted areas and for their animal and vegetation biodiversity to recover.

The assessment by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre is contained in a preliminary analysis of the 2019-20 bushfire season in Australia.

Using linear regression analysis, the CRC researchers analysed data from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Country Fire Authority of Victoria (Vic), and the Department of Environment and Water and Country Fire Service of South Australia (SA).

The analysis was then compared with the past two decades of fires in NSW, Victoria, and South Australia.

“The intention of this study was not to develop the best predictive model but to understand high-level trends in [those states],” the study authors wrote.

The total impact of the 2019-20 bushfire season to the economy is estimated to be as much as $40 billion. At least one billion vertebrate animals were lost due to the record burned area.

The BNHCRC is also warning Australians should be prepared for more fire risks in the coming season.

In its mid-year seasonal bushfire outlook published this week (which covers all states and territories through to September), the BNHCRC says the first half of 2020 has seen more rainfall in some parts of the country, with large parts of NSW, Victoria and Tasmania experiencing above-normal rainfall.

This well will lead to strong grass growth that, once the grass dries, could pose a significant fire risk.

The Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook: July 2020 will be used by fire authorities to make strategic decisions such as resource planning and prescribed fire management to reduce the negative impacts of bushfire.