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Fire information goes mobile to Australia’s land managers  

[by Helen Pereira, CDU]

Ranger Everlyn Mardi.jpg

Mimal Land Management Ranger Everlyn Mardi uses the new NAFI app in central Arnhem Land. Image: supplied

Land managers across much of Australia can now access near real-time bushfire information on their mobile phones with the launch of the NAFI (Northern Australia and Rangelands Fire Information system) free mobile app.

NAFI, previously only available on a web site, is a fire information web portal supported through Charles Darwin University’s Darwin Centre for Bushfire Research (DCBR).

CDU Research Development Officer Rohan Fisher said the app places space technology literally in the hands of land managers on country.

It has been developed by DCBR and environmental technology firm Gaia Resources.

“This is a major development that gives thousands of land managers in Northern Australia access to two to three-hourly updates on active fires, weekly updates of high-risk area across 80 per cent of Australia and burnt area maps from current and previous years – all on their phones,” Mr Fisher said.

“Knowing where fire scars (previously burnt areas) are is critical to prevention of large unplanned wildfires later in the season."

It’s information that is essential to the Northern Territory’s carbon farmers, who are regular users of NAFI.

They work to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by burning savanna early in the dry season to prevent the large uncontrolled bushfires that can occur later in the season.

In places where there is no mobile coverage, offline resources like satellite imagery and topographic maps with a location marker can be downloaded before entering the area.

“This is the first cut of the app.  We want land owners, managers and scientists to use the app and give us feedback so that we can enhance it further. We’ll be introducing additional widgets in the future," Mr Fisher said. 

Mr Fisher said there was scope for the app to be adapted for management of savanna country in southern Africa and Brazil.

“The NAFI fire resource provides critical information underpinning years of research and supporting traditional Indigenous knowledge. There is no reason why that can’t be used to benefit the management of savanna in other parts of the Southern Hemisphere,” he said.

To download the app, search “NAFI” on Android or Apple app stores

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