Research in the forests and water area encompasses a number of themes:
- Forest water use and streamflow dynamics
- Post-fire hydrology in a changing environment
- Geomorphic processes in forest environments
- Forest disturbance, erosion processes and water quality
- Risk and resilience
- Landscape fuel moisture status
- Catchment evolution
The research program is aimed at answering some of the key questions concerning the hydrologic and geomorphic response of native and planted forests to growth, and disturbance by fire and climate drivers. Research approaches combine field measurement, remote sensing and modelling and seek to understand fundamental hydrologic functioning, responses and resilience to external environmental drivers, and risks to water supplies. We have a particular focus on the effects of fire (both wildfire and planned burning) on water quality and water yield, and the resultant land and catchment management issues. We also have a strong interest in the resilience of forests to fire and climate stresses, and to understanding how the spatial distribution of landscape soil and vegetation attributes effect hydrology. The hydrologic status of hillslopes and vegetation is also an important aspect of fire behaviour. We are using our hydrologic expertise to investigate how topography, climate and forest structure affect fuel moisture.
Our research framework has at its heart a philosophy of understanding fundamental system processes and properties and then building this knowledge into practical applications in forest and catchment management, bushfire management and response, and water resource planning. The applications may take the form of robust science to underpin industry or government policy, or development of models for particular management applications.
For example, we are engaged in long term research program with Melbourne Water to better understand the impact of bushfires on the quantity and quality of water supplies. Our findings directly inform operational and strategic planning such as evaluating the need to build water contamination treatment plants, or incorporating changes in catchment water yields from burnt forests into long term planning.
Another long term program with the Victorian Department of Land, Water, Environment and Planning includes developing methodologies and models for the Rapid Response Assessment Teams who evaluate risk to human and environmental assets following bushfires and floods, and in providing expert opinion and models for the teams that develop Victoria’s long term fuel reduction planning.
- Dr. Richard Benyon, Richard Benyon leads research examining water use and water yields from native and planted forests.
- Dr. Wim Bovill, Wim Bovill is working on an Automated Fuel Moisture Monitoring Network to assist bushfire management.
- Dr. Dominik Jaskierniak, Dominik Jaskierniak's interests are modelling forest water use and streamflow, and remote sensing of forests.
- Assoc. Prof. Patrick Lane, Patrick Lane researches the ecohydrologic impact of forest growth and disturbance at a range of spatial and temporal scales.
- Dr. Christoph Langhans, Christoph Langhans is currently working on a project on risk to water quality and yield from wildfire. He specializes in hillslope infiltration and erosion processes.
- Mr. Philip Noske, Philip Noske designs experimental hydrologic monitoring systems, and researches post-fire runoff and erosion.
- Dr. Petter Nyman, Petter Nyman works on surface hydrology in forests. His research deals with questions relating to fire, forest fuels, soil development and erosion.
- Dr. Gary Sheridan, Gary Sheridan is a forest soil and erosion specialist, with a particular focus on researching the effect of fire on water quality and geomorphology.
- Mr. Craig Baillie, Craig Baillie works on environmental sensing networks.
- Ashley Greenwood, Ashley Greenwood is a PhD student working on improved modelling of the hydrologic impact of afforestation.
- Assaf Inbar, Assaf Inbar is a PhD student, his project is "Quantifying the energy and water controls on the geomorphic processes in the mountainous regions of SE Australia using a modelling approach"
- Leila Kasmaei, Leila Kasmaei is a PhD student researching the effect of scaling on runoff generation.
- Daniel Metzen, Daniel Metzen is a PhD student working on "Water balance dynamics in relation to aridity index, topography, soil depth and vegetation patterns".
- Rene Van Der Sant, Rene Van Der Sant is a PhD student working aridity as a predictor of the hydrogeomorphic response of burnt landscapes.