Plant burn time studied

00:29, Jan 18 2013
Plant barbecue

A Lincoln University scientist’s research is proving especially relevant at the moment after  the fires which raged through Selwyn last week.

 Lecturer in Ecology Dr  Tim Curran is studying the flammability of New Zealand plant species.

Although the research is still in its early stages, Dr Curran is using a specially designed plant barbecue to measure the flammability of shoots for a range of native and exotic plants.

‘‘It’s important research,’’ Dr Curran said.

While factors such as recent rainfall, prevailing winds and topography play a notable part in the severity of these fires, the flammability of plants (essentially the fuel for the fires) is a major contributor.

‘‘Future flammability studies of native and exotic species will provide valuable information for fire managers, land managers and the rural community in general. The hope is to use this research to help control fires through, among other things, such techniques as the planting of low flammability plants as a kind of fire break.’’

So far, the research has focused primarily on commonly used plant material such as gorse, macrocarpa or pine to assess flammability relative to its volume or moisture content.

 He said there had been  little research in the area and he was working toward bridging this knowledge gap through a series of projects funded by the University.


Fairfax Media