What are ecological burns?
Ecological burns are undertaken by Natural Resources Kangaroo Island (KI) staff to help regenerate remnant plant communities in agricultural landscapes and increase our understanding of the role of fire in maintaining ecosystem diversity and health. Ecological burns are done under specific conditions and involve deliberately applying fire to an area to achieve a conservation goal.
What has being done?
Small scale ecological burning was initiated under the Kangaroo Island nationally threatened plant project in 2003 to test how useful burning is in recovering threatened plant species. A total of 10 prescribed burns were completed between 2003 and 2007.
In 2008, the burn program was expanded considerably into Menzies, Haines and MacGillivray, under the Eastern Plains fire trial. A total of 42 prescribed burns were completed in partnership with 14 stakeholder groups. More than 250 different people were directly involved with this program, with 100 people contributing 4,000 hours to prescribed burn operations (including a significant contribution by 50 different CFS volunteers). Monitoring the effects of these burns involved project staff and students from Flinders University and the Australian National University.
What has been found?
Outcomes of the Eastern Plains fire trial include:
- regeneration of a diverse range of plant species (including endemic and nationally, state and locally threatened species)
- increased understanding of the effects of fire intensity and season on the regeneration response
- the opportunity to refine prescribed burn procedures and strengthen stakeholder partnerships
- further research being undertaken as a Ph.D project and outcomes will be made available when published.
The program was an excellent training opportunity, providing a large number of fire fighters with invaluable field based fire management knowledge and experience.
Where to from here?
The Eastern Plains fire trial concluded at the end of June 2013. Funding is currently being sought under a new four year ‘island bush’ project to expand the use of fire to maintain the diversity and health of remnant vegetation within the agricultural landscapes of KI.
SA Country Fire Service; Landholders; Kangaroo Island Council; Flinders University; Australian National University