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International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire

Extending methods for assessing fuel hazard in temperate Australia to enhance data quality and consistency

Bianca J. Pickering A * , Lauren T. Bennett A and Jane G. Cawson A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A FLARE Wildfire Research, School of Agriculture, Food and Ecosystem Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Burnley, Vic., Australia.

* Correspondence to:

International Journal of Wildland Fire 32(10) 1422-1437
Submitted: 24 November 2022  Accepted: 30 August 2023   Published: 22 September 2023

© 2023 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing on behalf of IAWF. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND)



Assessments of fuel (vegetation) are needed to predict fire behaviour. Broad visual methods support quick in-field management decisions but can be too imprecise to detect variations in fuel for other purposes.


We evaluated the utility of integrating more comprehensive fuel measurement techniques into an existing visual fuel hazard assessment method.


We developed an extended method for measuring fuel hazard, including line-intercept measurements and clearer tables for assigning fuel hazard scores, and compared it with the existing Overall Fuel Hazard Assessment Guide fourth edition, which is often used in temperate Australia. Methods were tested across 69 eucalypt woodland plots of the same broad fuel type.

Key results

The existing method estimated higher near-surface and elevated cover compared with the extended method, but less surface cover. Assigned hazard scores changed markedly when using the clearer hazard tables. Over half the plots had differences of one or more in hazard score for surface, near-surface and elevated fuel between the existing and extended methods.


The extended method provided a more methodical and consistent approach for assessing fuel hazard, but was more time-consuming than the existing method.


The extended method provides an alternative method for monitoring and research purposes when data quality is important.

Keywords: bushfire, fire management, fuel assessment, fuel hazard, fuel structure, Overall Fuel Hazard Assessment Guide, vegetation cover, vegetation monitoring.


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