Fire management

Last updated: Wednesday 25 May, 2016

Fire has played a major role in shaping the Australian landscapes, ecosystems, plant and animal populations. Indigenous Australians have managed the landscape with fire for thousands of years, something which today we seek to continue.

Reserve Manager Paul Hales uses fire to control weeds at Yourka Reserve, Qld. Martin Willis.
Reserve Manager Paul Hales uses fire to control weeds at Yourka Reserve, Qld. Martin Willis.
The importance of fire

Fire is a natural part of the Australian landscape, and many vegetation communities depend on being burnt occasionally to remain healthy. Healthy habitats support healthy populations of animal plants and animals.

Planning

Bush Heritage recognises that in Australian landscapes fire management is an essential and ongoing responsibility. We work collaboratively with neighbours, partners and local stakeholders as we prepare and implement fire management plan for all our reserves.

A controlled burn at Carnarvon Reserve, Qld. Photo Cathy Zwick.
A controlled burn at Carnarvon Reserve, Qld. Photo Cathy Zwick.
Fire ecology and risk management regimes are reserve-specific and aim to maintain the ecological values of the local area. They include specific management actions, decision-making criteria and priorities.

Typically, firebreaks are burnt around buildings and other infrastructure on the reserves to keep life and property safe. Firebreaks are also used to help protect vegetation that would be badly affected by fire.

We plan patterns of burning to suit vegetation communities that depend on fire. On the larger properties we try to mimic a more natural frequency of fire by creating a mosaic of burnt and unburnt areas, along with firebreaks on the reserve boundaries, which reduce the risk of broad-scale wildfire. 

Healthy Landscape Manager Glen Norris implements a controlled burn at Ethabuka Reserve. Photo Sajidah Abdhullah.
Healthy Landscape Manager Glen Norris implements a controlled burn at Ethabuka Reserve. Photo Sajidah Abdhullah.
Safety is paramount and working as a team enables fire management under these conditions to be undertaken with the greatest duty of care for all.

With approval from the local fire authorities, we conduct controlled burning on reserves with strict supervision by reserve managers, and the support and on-ground assistance (where required) of relevant park or fire agencies. Sound knowledge of climatic conditions (e.g. rainfall and wind) are monitored closely to ensure the most optimal times are chosen for burning.

How the land responds

When burning is skilfully carried out in the correct season it reinvigorates ageing vegetation communities, encourages flowering and seeding and provides a flush of new green shoots and highly nutritious small herbs for grazing wildlife.

By strategically choosing, and then burning, small areas of bush across a reserve, we build complexity into the vegetation over successive seasons. After some years this creates patches of bush at different stages of regeneration that can provide the resources animals need, no matter what the season.

Leave a lasting legacy
Leave a legacy