UNSW Canberra, a major hub for bushfire research, has welcomed the NSW government’s $28 million commitment to better preparing the state for future bushfires.  

Announced yesterday, the Bushfire Response R&D Mission aims to establish the state as a world centre for bushfire research, technology and commercialisation.   

Head of the UNSW Bushfire Research Group Professor Jason Sharples said there was an urgent need for applied research into how extreme fires behave and how we manage them to ensure we can protect vulnerable communities, firefighters and ecosystems.  

“The Black Summer highlighted the need for more concerted research into improving our understanding of extreme bushfires,” Professor Sharples said.  

“The funding announced by the NSW Government comes at a critical time as we rethink how to best deal with the increasing threat of extreme bushfires, and presents a key opportunity to enable emergency services to better manage fires, protect vulnerable communities and ecosystems, and save lives.” 

Professor Sharples lent his voice to the NSW government’s independent expert inquiry into the 2019-2020 bushfire season, emphasising the role that dynamic fire behaviour and extreme bushfire development had played in the overall scheme of events. 

“UNSW Canberra bushfire researchers have already provided a number of significant insights into dynamic fire behaviour and extreme bushfire development, and this funding presents an opportunity to build further upon this work in partnership with key NSW Government agencies such as NSW Rural Fire Service and National Parks and Wildlife Service,” Professor Sharples said.  

 The UNSW Bushfire Group, in collaboration with UNSW Science, will host an online event in July, bringing together experts to discuss the ongoing need for research around extreme bushfires and how we can build resilience to protect our most vulnerable communities.