Media Releases

Media releases from the Office of Susan Templeman MP.

Enquiries from the media should be directed to the Media Adviser via the Electorate Office on (02) 4573 8222 or via email to [email protected]

NEW RESEARCH SHOWS TURF A NATURAL FIRE BARRIER

August 26, 2020

 

Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman, has discussed with industry representatives in the Hawkesbury new research that demonstrates several turf varieties are a natural barrier to bushfire.

 

Professional services company GHD was engaged by not-for-profit horticultural research corporation, Hort Innovation, to undertake a study on the benefits of living turf and its role as a bushfire retardant.


GHD conducted experiments at the CSIRO in Canberra to assess the bushfire protection benefits of three common species of turf - buffalo, kikuyu and couch. It found all three were highly resistant to ignition from fire.


“This is important because it means natural turf can play a role in the spread of bushfire in peri-urbans areas like the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury,” Ms Templeman said.


“We have many turf businesses in the Hawkesbury, and this research is a great resource for them. 


“I have spoken to businesses including Greenway Turf Supplies at North Richmond, and they are very interested in the implications of this, and other similar findings. It will be useful to support activities in bushfire planning and preparation.”


Ben Muscat from Greenway Turf Supplies in North Richmond believes it’s a great idea to use “a natural environmentally friendly ground cover like natural turf as a form of bushfire retardation”.

 

“The research shows, turf that is green and healthy and well maintained create a fantastic natural fire barrier and are not readily combustible under any conditions associated with wildfires unless they are completely dead and have very low moisture contents,” Mr Muscat said.

 

“Turf in general is the real winner here when compared to other surfaces/coverings such as shrubs/trees/bark and the like. However, when it comes to healthy lawns in bushfire season when rainfall is minimised, I think Tiftuf is the natural standout here as it stays green when other grasses are brown through drought.

 

“The greener the grass stays, the better it is as a fire retardant. In a healthy, well irrigated and well looked after lawn I think variety is less important, but through the summer months the more drought tolerant a variety is I think the better it would be in this situation.

 

“Tiftuf is the first natural turf to be granted the Smart Approved Water Mark for Tiftuf (excluding Western Australia and Northern Territory), the only turfgrass in the world to achieve this. Tiftuf requires 38 per cent less water than any other variety, making it the most drought tolerant grass available.”

 

Ms Templeman, who lost her own home to bushfire in 2013, said the research was timely following some of the most devastating summer bushfires on record, and with the approach of the next bushfire season.

 

Hort Innovation stated the project team had performed tests assessing bushfire protection benefits of the three types of turf, including attempted ignitions at varying fuel moisture levels and at various lengths.

 

The research found the three varieties were highly resistant to ignition from fire.

They found that while lawns cannot stop airborne embers, they can provide defendable space from where such embers can be safely put out and mitigate fire spread.


“We need to consider every option, all the research, to help keep our community safe,” Ms Templeman said.

 

“Last summer’s bushfires were so unpredictable and so fierce, every little thing we can do to help prevent the spread of fire is certainly worth considering.”

 

SIGN UP TO MY EMAIL NEWSLETTER