Academics find no evidence that timber harvesting increased the scale or severity of the 2019/20 bushfires
6 August 2021
A message from our CEO, Monique Dawson
There are suggestions that timber harvesting had a significant impact on the scale and severity of the unprecedented 2019-20 Summer Bushfires.
A team of six eminent environmental scientists and academics from the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University, Canberra, led by Professor Rodney Keenan, put those suggestions to the test.
It is important that rigorous, evidence-based and independent scientific research helps inform our policies and practices in reducing fires that so devastate communities.
In their article: No evidence that timber harvesting increased the scale or severity of the 2019/20 bushfires in south eastern Australia, Professor Keenan and fellow researchers Professor Peter Kanowski (ANU), Professor Patrick Baker (Uni Melb), Associate Professor Christopher Brack (Uni Melb), Dr Anthony Bartlett (ANU) and Associate Professor Kevin Tolhurst (Uni Melb), found no evidence that timber harvesting increased the scale or severity of the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires.
They found that proposals that ceasing timber harvesting will reduce future fire risk are unfounded, and this policy option may have impacts on the capacity to prepare for, and respond to, future bushfires.
They also found that the timber industry provides an important support capacity to fire management in Victoria and that responsible timber harvesting can be used as an active management practice to reduce future fire risk, increase forest resilience and community safety.