The Affects of Wildfire on Water Yield and Its Relationship to Vegetation Response: A Case Study of the Summer 2001/2002 Sydney Basin Wildfire

Presentation at Research Forum of the 2012 Bushfire CRC and AFAC Annual Conference.

Wildfire can change water yield within a catchment. Victorian studies have shown that water yield declines post-wildfire and is then followed by a gradual return to pre-wildfire conditions. These catchments are dominated by Eucalyptus regnans (Mountain Ash) which are classed as an obligate seeder (perennial plant which regenerates post-wildfire through propagation from the seed bank). Studies have shown that there is a significant delay in species germination which rely on the seed bank. In contrast to Victoria, the Sydney Basin region is dominated by obligate resprouters, which resprout from dormant vegetative buds and/or lignotubers post-wildfire. However, there are very few studies on the effects of wildfire on water yield in regions dominated by obligate resprouters. Therefore, this paper synthesises two separate studies on the hydrology and satellite derived vegetation recovery of forested catchments affected by the Sydney Basin summer 2001/02 wildfire event. The study area consists of four burnt sub-catchments and three unburnt sub-catchments. The research assesses whether there is a relationship between water yield and vegetation recovery eight years following the wildfire. Initial results suggest that these catchments recover rapidly with minimal impact on catchment yield. Improved understanding of vegetation and water yield recovery will aid in developing more resilient water management plans within the Sydney Basin catchments.

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