Peter has a background in the biophysics of termite mounds, radio broadcasting, coordinating communication and, more recently, developing and managing websites for natural resource management.
The interest in websites comes from his time as Communication Coordinator with the Tropical Savannas CRC which had a goal of turning research into practical tools for land managers. One of the tools developed was the North Australia Fire Information (NAFI) fire-tracking website that the CRC developed at the request of, and with the help of, fire managers. Peter manages this website which is now hosted by RIEL and is a key fire monitoring tool for fire managers across north Australia.
The maps of burnt country (fire scars) used on the NAFI site are now being used by fire managers involved in the Carbon Farming Initiative. By measuring the areas burnt in different seasons and by knowing the type of vegetation burnt, people can estimate the accountable greenhouse gas emissions from fires on their land. If fire managers have been effective in limiting the frequency of fires and their emissions, these estimates can then be used to earn carbon credits.
Developing the data and tools used on the NAFI site involves significant applied research – from developing new ways to extract useful information from satellite images to ground-truthing the burnt area mapping products in the field – which is why the link with CDU is vital to the continued relevance of the NAFI site.
With increasing opportunities for economic returns for good natural resource management, there is also an increasing demand that this improved management can be validated – for example quantifying the degree to which fire patterns have been modified over a number of years. As a result Peter and his team have developed web-based tools that allow land managers to create pdf reports that quantify fire patterns and other natural resource attributes in a given area.
|2013||Journal Article||Isolated in an ocean of grass: low levels of gene flow between termite subpopulations. Molecular Ecology 22, 2096 - 2105 (2013).|
|2009||Book Chapter||The Bush Book: a manual for managing native vegetation across Northern Australia ( ) (Greening Australia, 2009). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:8677>|
|2007||Journal Article||Phylogeography of an Australian termite, Amitermes laurensis (Isoptera, Termitidae), with special reference to the variety of mound shapes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 42, 236 - 247 (2007).|
|2005||Journal Article||Terracotta Herbivores. Nature Australia 28, 50 - 55 (2005).|
|2004||Book||Fire Management in the Rangelands. (Tropical Savannas CRC and Department of Environment and Heritage, 2004).|
|2002||Journal Article||Evidence for the use of magnetic cues in mound construction by the termite Amitermes meridionalis (Isoptera: Termitinae). Australian Journal of Zoology 50, 357 - 368 (2002).|
|2000||Report||Defining and measuring the health of savanna landscapes: A north Australian perspective. (Tropical Savannas CRC, 2000). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:561>|
The NAFI website
The NAFI fire-tracking website www.firenorth.org.au displays current landscape-scale fires and burnt areas using satellite data. The site also has a range of tools that can be used to:
- plan early dry season strategic burning (used to limit the exent of wildfires later in the year)
- monitor strategic burning to see how effective it has been
- monitor wildfires and estimate their potential course
- assess the effectiveness of fire management.
The site is widely used by remote area fire managers across northern Australia. During the very active 2011 fire season, more than 1.5 million maps were downloaded.
The NT Infonet Website
The NT Infonet website www.ntinfonet.org.au was developed for the NT NRM Board and allows people to select any area of land in the Northern Territory and create a pdf summary of NRM data for that area suitable for NRM planning.
The site also allows users to download management guidelines for pests, threatened species and other NRM issues that are relevant to their selected area.
The North Australian Land Manager Website
The Land Manager website acts as a clearinghouse of links to relevant information for land managers with a focus on scientific information that helps people undertake practical tasks.