Australia's Megafires

Paperback - February 2023 - AU $69.99

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Explores the impacts of the Black Summer bushfires on biodiversity, and the lessons to be learnt.

The Australian wildfires of 2019–20 (Black Summer) were devastating and unprecedented. These megafires burnt more than 10 million hectares, mostly of forests in southern and eastern Australia. Many of the fires were uncontrollable. These megafires affected many of Australia’s most important conservation areas and severely impacted threatened species and ecological communities. They were a consequence of climate change – and offered a glimpse of how this is likely to continue to affect our future. + Full description

Australia’s Megafires includes contributions by more than 200 researchers and managers with direct involvement in the management and conservation of the biodiversity affected by the Black Summer wildfires. It provides a comprehensive review of the impacts of these fires on all components of biodiversity, and on Indigenous cultural values.

These fires also triggered an extraordinary and highly collaborative response by governments, NGOs, Indigenous groups, scientists, landholders and others, seeking to recover the fire-affected species and environments – to restore Country. This book documents that response. It draws lessons that should be heeded to sustain that recovery and to be better prepared for the inevitable future comparable catastrophes. Such lessons are of global relevance, for wildfires increasingly threaten biodiversity and livelihoods across the globe.

- Short description


"Australia’s Megafires is a rich collection of stories on a series of events that most students would have had some connection to. Impacts on biodiversity is not abstract—it is real and it is now."
Tony Jarrett, Geo Education Vol 36, 2024

"Australia’s Megafires contains an outstanding amount of information and should serve as both a useful reference resource for future natural disaster events, together with bring a sombre reminder of the impact of the 2019-20 bushfires. The lessons learned have global relevance, and will support future wildfire preparedness and response efforts."
Wildlife Health Australia, 2 February 2023

"[Australia's Megafires] involved contributions from more than 200 scientists and experts. It provides the most comprehensive assessment yet of how the fires affected biodiversity and Indigenous cultural values, and how nature has recovered."
The Conversation, 6 February 2023

"This book does a thorough and integrative job of exploring [wildfire] effects from different but interrelated points of view (e.g. from social to ecological), which are of great relevance to the people of Australia."
Jose V. Roces-Diaz, International Journal of Wildland Fire, 15 September 2023


Paperback | February 2023 | $ 69.99
ISBN: 9781486316649 | 512 pages | 245 x 170 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
B&W photographs, Colour photographs, Illustrations, Maps

ePDF | February 2023
ISBN: 9781486316656
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers

ePUB | February 2023
ISBN: 9781486316663
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers


  • Documents the major impacts on wildlife, ecological communities, sites of biodiversity significance and Indigenous cultural values.
  • Explores the extraordinary collaborative response to attempt to recover impacted species and environments.
  • Provides perspectives from people involved in the fire management and recovery.
  • Identifies necessary learnings to reduce the chance of future such catastrophes, to be better prepared and better enable recovery.
  • Includes responses and recommendations that will be broadly applicable to comparable environmental catastrophes around the world.


List of contributors

1. Introduction
2. The 2019–20 Australian wildfires: precursors, characteristics and implications for the future
3. Impacts of wildfire on Indigenous cultural values
4. Consequences of the Australian 2019–20 wildfires for sites important for biodiversity and other World Heritage values
5. Wildfire effects on soils and soil processes
6. The impact of the 2019–20 Australian wildfires on aquatic systems
7. The impacts of the 2019–20 wildfires on marine species and ecosystems
8. Ecological communities: impact and response
9. Blackened roots and green shoots: emerging trends in decline and recovery in Australian plant species after the 2019–20 wildfires
10. The impacts of the 2019–20 wildfires on Australian fungi
11. Impacts of the 2019–20 wildfires on Australian invertebrates
12. Estimating the number of wild animals affected by Australia’s 2019–20 wildfires
13. The impacts of the 2019–20 wildfires on Australian frogs
14. The impacts of the 2019–20 wildfires on Australia’s lizards and snakes
15. The impacts of the 2019–20 wildfires on Australian birds
16. Impacts of the 2019–20 wildfires on native mammals
17. How introduced animals compound the effects of fire on native plants and animals
18. The compounding impacts of disease and weeds after the 2019–20 wildfires on Australian vascular plants and communities
19. Interacting and compounding impacts: fire and forestry in the 2019–20 wildfires
20. Review of impacts of the 2019–20 wildfires on biodiversity
21. Prescribed burning in Australian forests: characteristics, impacts and effects
22. Response by the Australian Government to the 2019–20 wildfires
23. State agency responses to support biodiversity recovery following the 2019–20 wildfires
24. Immediate and longer-term responses of conservation NGOs to the 2019–20 wildfires
25. Responses of natural resource management groups to biodiversity loss and recovery in the 2019–20 wildfires
26. Wildlife welfare and the 2019–20 wildfires
27. Ex situ responses to the 2019–20 wildfires
28. Shared responsibilities and collaborative responses: review of actions taken to support the recovery of biodiversity after the 2019–20 wildfires
29. What did we learn about biodiversity management, policy and operations from the 2019–20 wildfires?
30. Government inquiries following the 2019–20 wildfires
31. Monitoring impacts and recovery
32. A precautionary tale: the consequences of, and remedies for, data deficiencies and uncertainty in conservation decisions related to the 2019–20 wildfires
33. Empowering Indigenous leadership and participation in wildfire recovery, cultural burning and land management
34. Of grief, spirit and hope: personal reflections of the 2019–20 wildfires
35. Recommendations
36. Our future



Libby Rumpff is a Senior Research Fellow and a Principal Investigator in the Quantitative and Applied Ecology group (QAECO) at The University of Melbourne. She is a woodland ecologist and environmental decision analyst.

Sarah M. Legge is an Honorary Professor at The Australian National University, and a Professorial Fellow at Charles Darwin University. Sarah is a wildlife ecologist with 30 years of research and conservation management experience. She was a co-author of Cats in Australia and co-editor of Monitoring Threatened Species and Ecological Communities.

Stephen van Leeuwen is a Wardandi Noongar with a profound respect for Country, a professor and Australia’s first Indigenous Chair of Biodiversity and Environmental Science, based at Curtin University. He is a botanical ecologist with diverse research interests.

Brendan A. Wintle is a Professor in Conservation Ecology and a Principal Investigator in the Quantitative and Applied Ecology group (QAECO) at The University of Melbourne. He is passionate about the conservation of Australia’s unique flora and fauna. He was a co-editor of Monitoring Threatened Species and Ecological Communities.

John C. Z. Woinarski is a Professor of Conservation Biology at Charles Darwin University. He has been engaged in research, management and policy relating to Australian biodiversity for over 40 years. He was the author of A Bat's End, a co-author of Cats in Australia and The Action Plan for Australian Lizards and Snakes 2017, and co-editor of Recovering Australian Threatened Species.

Rachael Alderman, Tim Allard, Tony D. Auld, David Bain, Payal Bal, Sarah Barrett, Stephen A. J. Bell, Karleah K. Berris, James R. Biggs, Leigh Blackmore, Glenn Block, Lucas Bluff, Rebecca L. Boulton, Elle Bowd, Anne Buchan, Allan H. Burbidge, Amelia Caddy, Michelle Campbell-Ward, David E. A. Catcheside, Pamela S. Catcheside, Renee Catullo, Tracey Churchill, Hamish Clarke, David Coates, Luke Collins, Sarah Comer, Lachlan M. Copeland, Oliver Costello, Rebecca L. Cramp, Jemma Cripps, Kaye Currey, Naveed Davoodian, Kelly de Bie, Christopher R. Dickman, Rebecca Dillon, Jingyi Ding, Paul Donatiu, Don Driscoll, Brenda Duffy, David H. Duncan, Louise Durkin, Dan Duval, David J. Eldridge, Michelle J. Ensbey, Pamela Fallow, Adam Fawcett, David M. Forsyth, Craig E. Franklin, Fiona Fraser, Hannah Fraser, Rosemary Gales, Rachael V. Gallagher, Stephen T. Garnett, Jody A. Gates, William Geary, Heloise Gibb, Rebecca K. Gibson, Kate Giljohann, Carl R. Gosper, Jenny Gray, Matthew Greenlees, Aaron Greenville, Heidi Groffen, Darren Grover, Jenny Guerin, Fern Hames, Tianxiao Hao, Mark S. Harvey, Anna-Lisa Hayes, Jason Higham, Harry B. Hines, Pat Hodgens, Katja Hogendoorn, Rosemary Hohnen, Bronwyn Hradsky, Paul Jennings, Chris Jolly, Liana Joseph, Greg Keighery, David A. Keith, Luke Kelly, Mark J. Kennard, Robert M. Kooyman, Tanya Latty, Jenny Lau, Brad Law, Tom D. Le Breton, Joshua Lee, Sarah M. Legge, Frank Lemckert, Viyanna Leo, Steve Leonard, David B. Lindenmayer, Mark Lintermans, Hannah Lloyd, Lisien Loan, Michele Lockwood, Ella Loeffler, Rachel Lowry, Phoebe V. Macak, Berin D. E. Mackenzie, Nina Maclean, Michael J. Mahony, Robert O. Makinson, Justin Mallee, George Malolakis, Helene Marsh, Jess R. Marsh, Golo Maurer, Tom W. May, Rob McCormack, David McCreery, Michael S. McFadden, Jane Melville, Andre Messina, Damian Michael, Kim A. Miller, Christian Miller-Sabbioni, Melinda L. Moir, Rachel Morgain, Eridani Mulder, Angela Muscatello, V. John Neldner, Jenny Nelson, David Newell, Michael R. Ngugi, Dale Nimmo, Craig Nitschke, Rachael H. Nolan, Catherine A. Offord, Damon L. Oliver, Mark K. J. Ooi,, Marissa L. Parrott, Bruce Pascoe, Luke Pearce, Trent D. Penman, Petina L. Pert, Owen Price, Ella Plumanns Pouton, Tarmo A. Raadik, Tania Reid, J. Dale Roberts, Cathy J. Robinson, Daniel J. Rogers, Simon Rowe, Jodi J. L. Rowley, Libby Rumpff, Claudia Santori, Ben C. Scheele, Julian Seddon, Sally L. Sherwen, Chris Smyth, Darren Southwell, Emma Spencer, Rebecca Spindler, Elizabeth M. Tasker, Chris Taylor, Thai Te, Daniella Teixeira, Stephanie Todd, Arn Tolsma, Mark Tozer, Samantha K. Travers, Camille Truong, Ayesha Tulloch, Kate Umbers, Lily M. van Eeden, Stephen van Leeuwen, Monique Van Sluys, Ian S. Walker, Neville Walsh, Michelle Ward, James E. M. Watson, Jonathan Webb, Noel Webster (Uncle Nook), Judy West, Matt West, Cherie White, Jacob White, Nick S. Whiterod, Dick Williams, Brendan A. Wintle, John C. Z. Woinarski, Rupert Woods, Damian Wrigley, Colin J. Yates, Heidi C. Zimmer, Sylvia Zukowski, Phil Zylstra.