A review of fire management on central Australian conservation reserves: towards best practice

A review of fire management on central Australian conservation reserves: towards best practice Policy Briefings

DKCRC Research Report - Desert Fire: fire and regional land management in the arid landscapes of Australia

  • Author(s): Duguid, A, Brock, C, Gabrys, K
  • Secondary Author(s): Edwards, GP, Allan, GE
  • Published: 2009
  • Publisher: Desert Knowledge CRC
  • Volume: 37

Abstract: This report reviews past fire management practices on conservation reserves in central Australia and makes recommendations on the best way to manage fire. It includes a summary of relevant ecological knowledge and highlights barriers to efficiently achieving best practice. The concept of fire regimes is central to this report. It is widely agreed that current fire regimes are unfavourable for some species and communities due to the prevalence of large intense wildfires. This is believed to be the result of changed land use and fire management and the spread of non-native grasses. The cessation of nomadic Aboriginal burning (past 50–100 years) and an associated loss of diversity in post-fire vegetation age across the landscape has been a major change. However, fire regimes of both the recent and older past are difficult to quantify. Much of this report is based on a belief that humans need to influence fire regimes with fire management, including prescribed burning (i.e. deliberately lit fires, burning in prescribed conditions, which are part of an agreed fire management plan). It is widely agreed that the extent of prescribed burning needs to be increased. Preferred fire management regimes are described for broad vegetation types. Better ecological understanding is required to devise more specific management regimes for finer-scale vegetation types. In most years, the majority of the areas deliberately burnt should be in fire-tolerant vegetation characterised by the presence of spinifex and the absence of long-lived woody obligate seeders (trees and shrubs which do not re-sprout when their canopies are killed by fire). Prescribed burning in these areas should be a combination of: - patches aimed at diversifying post-fire vegetation age with presumed benefits for fauna - burnt fire breaks (lines) aimed at limiting the spread of and damage from wildfires.

Notes: scroll to pg.

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