|Abstract||Although Australia and New Zealand have quite different fire climates and fuels, the common understanding of fire behaviour underlies many facets of fire management in both countries. Fire management is the legal responsibility of various government land management agencies that manage public lands and individuals, local governments or corporations that manage private land. Volunteer bushfire/rural brigades have been formed throughout rural and peri-urban areas and are coordinated by rural and metropolitan fire authorities for specific activities such as fire suppression and fuel management. During the last two decades there has been an increasing interaction between Australia and New Zealand rural and land management fire agencies exchanging fire management practices, lessons learnt, common incident command systems and more recently, through partnership in their research programs.
Both countries face a similar array of challenges in meeting their fire management objectives and the task is becoming increasingly difficult. As overarching services provided by governments, fire management has been subject to financial pressures, resulting in staff reductions and erosion of traditional levels of fire management resources. Resources are declining at a time when demands for protection by the general community are increasing. Concurrently, the demands for ecologically appropriate fire management practices and concerns about the long-term impacts of prescribed burning have led to the suggestions that, in some areas, fire is adversely affecting biodiversity and long-term sustainability of natural ecosystems. These issues are overlain by debate about how fire can affect climate change, greenhouse gas balance at the landscape and national level, and whether such changes are being exacerbated by managed and/or wildland fires. |