Camphor laurel and Fire Risk

A survey of a representative range of Bushfire Brigade Officers in camphor-infested areas between Lismore and Byron Bay reveals that there is almost unanimous objection to the near-total infestations of this tree-weed along both roadsides and steep dry hillsides leading up to roads.

Initial investigations since 1998 revealed that Bush Fire Captains are mostly aware that in particularly dry-drought seasons, camphor trees can wilt to the point where they become regarded as highly flammable.

Serious risk is associated with dense, multi-stemmed camphor infestations near ridgetops, where a narrow country road follows a ridge for some kilometers or more, and there may be no avenue of escape for vehicles likely to trapped in a fast windblown fire at that level. The trees have a very high leaf and stem oil component which fuels the blaze.

In the Built Environment

Residents of Sydney's eastern suburbs, and those in or near sandstone gullies heavily infested with camphor, have for over 40 years: More recently, near farmhouses with a water tank that becomes overgrown with camphor, landowners report that camphor leaves not only block or clog up roof guttering and downpipes (due to their very slow rate of breakdown or solubilisation, but that certain camphor chemotypes are implicated in cases of persistent human sickness conditions linked to the tainted collected water from off roofs.