Fire-retardant Trees

December 12, 2012

Drought solutions

Stephen Frank Director Tree Logic Pty Ltd

Apart from the potential human tragedy and loss caused by bushfires, they also often result in a loss of landscape amenity.  Bushfires often create apprehension about replanting trees adjacent to homes and other buildings.

The benefits of trees in our landscapes is significant and the use of fire retardant trees in areas prone to bushfires can not only add beauty to our gardens but when selected and placed appropriately they can also increase the safety of people’s homes in the advent of a bushfire event.

The tree selections made here will not guarantee absolute safety in a bush fire. All plants, whether they are exotic or Australian, will burn when subjected to sufficient heat. Different fire conditions have varying effects at different times on the same species. The selected  trees in the following list, if correctly sited, conserve moisture (stored moisture in foliage), serve as a wind break by absorbing and deflecting radiant heat from the fire and act as a barrier to flying sparks and embers.

Trees and landscapes must be part of a complete fire planning system and ongoing diligence in managing your site.  Site management includes maintaining trees in a healthy condition, for example keep soil moist, prune out dead wood and clean up debris and leaf litter.

Trees with the best fire-retardant properties are those which have soft leaves with a high moisture content, smooth and non-peeling barks, and low volatility oils in their foliage. In general this includes the majority of deciduous trees and some evergreens from the sub-tropics and rain forests. Avoid trees that create or hold on to lots of dry dead branches and debris, have loose flaky bark, have dense, fine foliage with a low moisture content.

The following list is not definitive.  Further information can be sought from the references listed below and from local authorities.

The following trees could be used for specimen plantings.  Planting of trees should take into consideration separation distances between buildings.

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