Aggregated and Harmonised Burnt Extent Fire History Data on a National Scale

Uplifting Australian state and territory burnt extent data systems to improve bushfire research and management
Two firefighters are in a forest
Who will benefit
States and territories can create and maintain consistent burnt area data, both historical data and near real-time, and researchers can access fire history data from each state from one national source

The Challenge

Australian states and territories currently have different practices for recording bushfire boundaries. This data is used for analysing fire behaviour, planning prescribed burns, determining fuel load, understanding the risk of future fires, and validating the environmental impacts of bushfires.

The Approach

The project assessed the maturity of each state’s and territory’s burnt extent data flows and processes to determine where gaps exist and recommend paths forward for uplifting their data infrastructure.

The project supported the uplift of the states’ and territories’ burnt extent data systems. Data from state agencies was aggregated and harmonised into a national dataset. Satellite imagery data for both near-real-time and historic burnt areas was analysed.

The Outcomes

This project has delivered a reliable, consistent historical bushfire boundaries dataset. Download the dataset or view it interactively.

The project has also delivered a:

Badge reading "Geospatial Excellence Awards 23/24 - Regional Winner (Industry) - Certified"

The project was named the 2023 ACT Winner of the Geospatial Excellence Environment and Sustainability Award by the Geospatial Council of Australia. Read more about the award.

Who Will Benefit

This project enables states and territories to create, maintain and provide consistent burnt area data for an aggregated and harmonised burnt extent and fire history data layer on a national scale.

Satellite imagery from Landsat 8/9 and Sentinel 2 was used to derive nationally consistent burnt areas from both near-real-time response and historical satellite image acquisitions.

Use cases include:


Provide a foundation for iterative improvement of national burnt area estimates and underpin historic and future fire behaviour studies 


Improved resolution of national burnt area histories to aid fire and land management – provision of standard products to reduce issues with uptake and integration during emergencies 

Broader impact

Improved resolution and quality of standardised burnt area information across emergency and fire management, industry, insurance and carbon accounting domains 


Improving public information and the ability to respond to cross-border emergencies through broader adoption of common approaches

View a presentation delivered by Kane Orr, Project Manager, at the May 2023 Bushfire Data Challenges Forum, which described the project’s use cases in the following areas: 

  • improving the Australian Fire Danger Rating System
  • disaster recovery
  • carbon accounting
  • Indigenous land management
  • water management
  • land leases
  • urban planning
  • insurance
  • bushfire research and predictions
  • species protection.

The Partners

  • Geoscience Australia – Digital Earth Australia (DEA)
  • Emergency Management Spatial Information Network Australia (EMSINA)
  • ACT Parks and Conservation Service (ACT PCS)
  • Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC)
  • NSW Department of Planning and Environment (NSW DPE)
  • NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS)
  • Victoria Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (Vic DELWP)

Further Resources

Contact the ARDC

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