When it comes to wildfires, most Australians can’t even remember the last time they lived through one.
And when it comes down to it, that’s no different from when they were children, when their parents were in the bush or when they started travelling the country, a new survey suggests.
The Forest Fires Report is an annual snapshot of fires across Australia that takes in the past 24 hours.
It found that between June 30 and July 4 last year, there were 1,086 wildfires across the country.
It also found there were 690 fires in the Northern Territory.
“The fires in Australia this year have been quite exceptional, it’s just extraordinary,” the survey’s co-author, University of NSW scientist James Hickey, told the ABC.
The survey found the average wildfire season in Australia was 20 days, with most fires occurring between June and September.
And there were a number of fire seasons where there was a small number of fires, which meant that the fire season in some areas would only last for a few days.
“If there’s only one fire that goes out in one place it’s going to be devastating,” Professor Hickey said.
“[But] if there’s a number that go out in a small area of time, it can be really good for the forest because it’s less likely to get caught out.”
He said the longer the fire seasons are, the more vulnerable it is to a fire coming on from elsewhere.
But fires are not limited to just Australia’s northern beaches.
Professor Hickey told the BBC he believed there could be other places where wildfires could spread, with the Northern Rivers State Forest in NSW having more than 500 wildfires.
“The northern Rivers State forest is one of the most threatened forests in the world,” he said.
“They have this big, wetland system that is incredibly vulnerable to fires.”
Professor Hiccups research into the phenomenon of forest fires has led to his paper published in the latest edition of the scientific journal Forest Ecology and Management.
He said he has found that when the fires in a region get out of hand, the local community is usually left with no other choice but to move away.
“We’ve seen people in other parts of Australia moving to bushfire hotspots, they don’t want to live in that area,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Firefighters often have to work in remote areas, sometimes in remote-controlled vehicles, to fight the fires.
Professor J Hickey’s research has also led to him becoming a national spokesperson for the Forest Fires Foundation, which he says is a non-profit organisation.
“It’s been really helpful to me to be able to help people in rural areas because I’m a Forest Fires volunteer,” he explained.
Professor K J Murtagh, the chair of the Forestry Industry and Forestry Council of Australia, told ABC News the council was in discussions with the Forestry Department about supporting research into fire management.
“Forestry is a highly regulated industry, there are regulations and there are the requirements and we are working with the Government on some of these regulations to help us keep fires from coming in,” he added.
“That’s important for us to understand.”
Professor Hickeys research has been published in Forest Ecology &Forestry, a journal published by the Australian Conservation Foundation.