Logging increases bush flammability for 30 years, research shows

A photograph of a forest going up in the flames of a bushfire.
11 February 2021

Logging of native forests makes them much more flammable and elevates the severity of bushfires when they occur, pushing some species closer to ecological collapse, according to a review of published science by two leading universities.

The meta-study – which assessed 51 peer-reviewed papers – found logging increased the severity of forest fires from about 10 years after the trees are extracted with effects lasting more than three decades. Selective logging or thinning can also increase fire risks, according to the Bushfire Recovery Project, a joint project between Griffith University and the Australian National University.

The research showed that “it is up to seven times more likely that the canopy in a logged forest will burn compared with an unlogged forest”, said Patrick Norman, an ecologist with the Griffith Climate Change Response Program, and one of the report’s authors.

“Once the canopy is burnt, it takes a long time for the recovery.”

Read the full article on The Sydney Morning Herald website, featuring work co-produced with The Australian National University