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A French-Australian Bushfire and Natural HazardsCommunity is born

Building on the France and Australia Bushfire Science Workshop...

An online workshop has contributed to the open sharing of knowledge and expertise between Australian

and French fire experts. Set up in partnership with the French Embassy in Australia, the Bushfire & Natural

Hazards CRC, the Group of Eight, and the European competitiveness unit SAFE Cluster, this workshop

provided a forum to explore and exchange on the expertise and best practices of the two countries, and

on the more advanced research concerning the management of bushfires.

The event was opened by the Ambassador of France to Australia, Mr. Christophe Penot, who highlighted

the benefits of France and Australia collaborating to tackle this global crisis. He explained the context of

this workshop, and its purpose: “to share our tools, our knowledge, and our strengths in order to respond in

the best possible way to the forthcoming global changes that will affect us all”.

Prof Margaret Gardner, Chair of the Group of Eight, praised the benefits of expert collaboration and

emphasised the importance of recognising bushfires as a global crisis. “Knowledge has no borders,” Prof

Gardner said. “It works across countries and it’s best when it’s given wings by international collaboration, by

experts talking with experts across boundaries, sharing what they understand”.

With six expert panels across three days, more than 40 French and Australian panellists including key

researchers, policymakers, government officials and agency representatives, discussed bushfire science

and practices. Fire professionals shared their experiences about the different emergency responses and

ways that both countries draw on research and collaboration for bushfire innovation. Fire behaviour

studies and processes such as the formation of storms, or pyro-cumulous-nimbus, were also discussed. A

specific panel was dedicated to regulations on fire-use practices in France and Australia, as well as urban

fire-risk management. The impact of fires on our societies, our health, our economy, as well as on our

environment are sometimes impossible to estimate, but studies were shared on how to take them into

account in today’s decisions, in order to form a better prepared and more resilient society. Climate studies

and climate interactions with forest biodiversity and their fire regimes have been described to inform

environmental restoration strategies. Finally, future risks were discussed and earth observations and

climate models were presented as tools to better determine these emerging challenges.

Dr Richard Thornton, CEO of the CRC, hosted the final panel, which focused on specific opportunities for

connection and ongoing collaboration. “The CRC has been trying to foster these sorts of collaborations for

many years now and this will continue as we transition into the new centre, announced in July of this year. It’s

really important that we work together. We’re happy to help wherever possible, especially now that we’ve

developed these relationships, so come and talk to us if you need connections”.

... and hosted by the AFRAN Association

Collaboration in research and innovation can foster transformation in the Bushfire and Natural Hazards


The modern meaning of innovation is "a new idea, creative thought, a new imagining in the form of a

device or method"... It does not necessarily involve invention, which is creating something completely

new. Innovation means transforming or adapting something already existing to a new context, or to solve

another problem. France and Australia are different, but both countries have experienced devastating

bushfires and disasters. Sharing their knowledge, adapting their tools to the local specificities of the other

country is innovating.

The transformation of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards field will happen through collaboration,

exchanges between different disciplines, such as social sciences, climate science, or fire science; different

points of view such as emergency services, academy, or governments; and different cultures and

countries such as Australia and France, as a random example!

AFRAN is short for the Australian-French Association for Research and Innovation. This association is

active in initiating, fostering and scaling up collaborations between France and Australia in the areas of

research and innovation. The Association promotes and organises networking events and fora gathering

academia, industries, community players and policy makers, it supports promising collaborations with

seed-funding, offers insights into the French and Australian research and higher education systems, and

coordinates a platform of experts to support research, technology, industries and communities.

The association is structured into local hubs and thematic communities. Building on the France and

Australia Bushfire Science Workshop and the interest it triggered, an AFRAN Bushfire and Natural Hazards

Community has emerged to share ideas, information, and research progresses about bushfire, natural

hazard, and climate science, and to connect French and Australian researchers.


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