Journal article

Mechanical Mastication Reduces Fuel Structure and Modelled Fire Behaviour in Australian Shrub Encroached Ecosystems

Madeleine A Grant, Thomas J Duff, Trent D Penman, Bianca J Pickering, Jane G Cawson

FORESTS | MDPI | Published : 2021

Abstract

Shrub encroachment of grassland and woodland ecosystems can alter wildfire behaviour and threaten ecological values. Australian fire managers are using mechanical mastication to reduce the fire risk in encroached ecosystems but are yet to evaluate its effectiveness or ecological impact. We asked: (1) How does fuel load and structure change following mastication?; (2) Is mastication likely to affect wildfire rates of spread and flame heights?; and (3) What is the impact of mastication on flora species richness and diversity? At thirteen paired sites (masticated versus control; n = 26), located in Victoria, Australia, we measured fuel properties (structure, load and hazard) and floristic diver..

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