From the CEO: Fire preparation

Thursday 20 March, 2014
Gerard O’Neill, CEO. Photo by Peter MorrisGerard O'Neill, CEO. Photo by Peter Morris

Out on the reserves fire always plays a role over the warmer months, especially in the south. So far our preparation and planned burning strategies are working. The expertise of our Reserve Managers and science staff has either extinguished bushfires or used fire to enhance ecological conditions for priority habitats and species.

This is skilled work requiring a strong commitment to safety. We specialise in working with volunteer fire services, station owners, and Traditional Owners to get the best possible outcome from any fire situation. Our responses to wildfires usually involve working closely with neighbours. Chris Wilson, Reserve Manager at Carnarvon and Thornton Kerr, Field Officer, have been tackling a number of fires with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Rangers and Station Managers.

Fires have burnt for nearly a month in the hills, though recent rains are helping suppress their intensity and we expect a good result. Such collaborations, whether written down or sealed with a handshake are part of the way we operate. By working together, we are building conservation into communities as a natural part of the Australian landscape.

Speaking of partnerships, I am pleased to say we have renewed a key partnership with the Warddeken Aboriginal Land Management in west Arnhem Land recently.

Forested woodlands, Carnarvon Station Reserve. Photo by Cathy ZwickWoodlands, Carnarvon Station Reserve. Photo by Cathy Zwick

The agreement sees us supporting conservation work on the Arnhem Land plateau. The escarpment is home to the white‑throated grasswren, short-eared rock wallaby, black wallaroo, giant cave geckos and diadem horseshoe bats along with many endemic or vulnerable threatened species. Feral cats and unplanned fires are key issues.

We are working with the Warddeken traditional owner group and others such as The Nature Conservancy, The Pew Environment Group, Northern Territory Government, NAILSMA and Karrkad Kanjdji Trust, among others, to secure this priceless heritage.

Another partnership with Balkanu Land Development Corporation on Cape York is featured, alongside the Warddeken agreement, in our story Support behind caring for country . These are among 11 established or emerging partnerships with Aboriginal people across the country.

Working together in this way is vital in order to be relevant and influential in the great challenges of protecting Australia’s priceless natural heritage. All this, of course, is not possible without your support. Through you we are making a difference and I see that in the ‘Reserve Scorecards’ we produce to report on ecological conditions. They provide a great insight into our work. However, as Chris Wilson and the team know, we have to be vigilant. The next challenge may be just over the hill.

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Gerard O'Neill, CEO

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