The Royal Commission into the Black Saturday bushfires re-emphasised the need to manage Victorian landscapes to protect life and property, while maintaining biodiversity.
A key part of this process is evaluating the appropriateness of fuel reduction burning, or wildfire for Victorian landscapes, using tolerable fire intervals and plant attributes. These tools draw on expert knowledge of the reproductive lifespan of various species to identify which fire regimes sustain the majority of species. Data underlying the tools is scarce.
Miss Freya Thomas is developing methods to incorporate plant traits into multi-species models of plant growth and reproduction in order to predict demographic rates for plant species. This research can support fire management decisions. Miss Thomas will visit universities and training institutes in South Africa, Ireland, Spain, France and the USA.
The Victoria Fellowship enables researchers in the early stages of their careers to undertake international study missions.
Read more about the Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation and Victoria Fellowships