Fire ecology is the component of fire management that involves the study of fire and its interaction with the natural environment.
Fire is a natural part of the Australian environment and has been so for millions of years. Natural ignition (lightning) and indigenous burning practices have shaped our ecosystems over tens of thousands of years.
We live in a fire prone environment dictated by our climate of wet winters (which creates fuel) and hot dry summers. Victoria is one of the most bushfire prone areas in the world. Many of our plants and animals have evolved to survive fire events, and are reliant on bushfire to regenerate and maintain their health. In particular, biodiversity is dependent on appropriate fire regimes (fire intensity, frequency, season, extent and type).
Lack of appropriate fire regimes is one of the major threats to Victoria's biodiversity and "inappropriate fire regimes causing disruption to sustainable ecosystem processes and resultant loss to biodiversity is listed as a potentially threatening process" under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.
While the majority of Victoria's native species and ecosystems are adapted to fire, some have a very low tolerance to fire and need to be protected (e.g. rainforests, alpine vegetation and some threatened species). Successful suppression of bushfire over decades leading to the early to mid 2000s, and changed land use patterns, have altered fire regimes.
Victoria's fire ecology program develops the science and processes to enable ecologically appropriate fire regimes.