There is increasing evidence that the selection, planting and maintenance of trees can help reduce the vulnerability of a property to the impact of bushfires.
All trees and plants do burn so there is no guaranteed way of stopping a fire but selecting the right type of trees and plants can help act as a barrier to wind and fire, help reduce the intensity of a fire and reduce the risk of a fire spreading from ember attack.
In general choose plants that have a high moisture content such as Maples, Cherry, Ash and Oak species, remembering to ensure any leaf litter and fallen branches are cleared. Avoid planting trees high in oils, resins and waxes such as Junipers and Conifers close to property as they are more inclined to burn..
More specifically research has identified 14 different factors that can influence the flammability of a specific plant including density of foliage, leaf fineness, moisture, volatile oil and mineral content of leaves, size of plant and height of canopy and bark texture. (‘Landscape and Building Design for Bushfire Areas’ published by CSIRO Publishing 2003)
Remember, plant selection is only one element of landscaping for fire protection. Garden maintenance, plant positioning, property location and topography are equally key factors in minimising vulnerability to bushfire.
The plants identified here are provided as a guide only.
More information and case studies on fire retardant trees can be found by visiting:
The two images above of the burning tree in Bundanoon were taken during the bushfire event of January 2020 by Oak Flats Rural Fire Brigade member Brett Sheridan and used with his permission. Thank you Brett for your permission and your service as an RFS volunteer.