People have long used planned fires as a tool to open up access to hunting grounds, to encourage new plant growth, and to cultivate plants for cooking, heating and spiritual purposes.
The idea of using fires as a tool is increasingly being used in the form of controlled burning in which vegetation and undergrowth is burned to reduce the risk and severity of bushfires near populated areas.
But what is easily forgotten is that bushfires are natural phenomena that create unique habitats that are essential for different plants and animals to thrive in. It makes for an increasingly tricky problem, not least because climate change will increase the frequency and severity of fires. How do we balance people’s safety while protecting and encouraging biodiversity in fire prone areas?