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Southern Fleurieu

Biodiversity:  Managing risks to biodiversity from wildfire

Medium Priority

What is this issue

Catastrophic loss of biodiversity due to wildfire.

Impacts of the issue

Loss of significant populations of plants and animals and potentially species due to a wildfire burning through large or particularly significant areas. 

Causes

  • Bushfire (or fire in catastrophic conditions)
  • Insufficient patch size
  • Poor connectivity
  • Low area of remnant habitat
  • Structure of habitats (low landscape resilience)
  • Lack of dispersal capacity

Barriers

  • Access to private land which limits ability to undertake fuel reduction burns
  • Community fear of fire, fear of native vegetation around properties (including roadsides) resulting in excessive clearing
  • Low knowledge of CFS as to when and how to respond
  • Small properties and many individual landholders in a small space resulting in lots of infrastructure which creates further difficulty to apply burns
  • Unpredictable nature of fire (timing and location)
  • Existing limitation of Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 
  • Change in dynamics of vegetation communities (e.g. weedy roadsides, change in vegetation community)

Climate impacts and adaptation needs

Projected decreases in spring rainfall may result in reduced fuel loads in some years, but increased temperatures and number of days of extreme fire weather are likely to increase fire frequency and severity. Implementation of Bushfire Management Area Plans and consideration of biodiversity values in land use planning will help improve the resilience of native ecosystems.

Who plays a role

  • Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board
  • Australian Rail and Transport Commission
  • Country Fire Service
  • Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources
  • Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure
  • Forestry SA
  • Industry Groups
  • Landholders (farmers, lifestylers, urban, peri-urban)
  • Local Government (District Council of Yankalilla, City of Victor Harbor, Alexandrina Council)
  • Non-government organisations
  • Research institutions
  • SA Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board
  • SA Water
  • Utilities

Strategies and Actions

Ensure coordinated fire planning and risk management that incorporates biodiversity assets

  • Identify key biodiversity assets, their fire management needs (where knowledge gaps exist) and priorities for prescribed burns
  • Identify long-unburnt areas and potential barriers to applying prescribed burns
  • Incorporate natural asset management needs (including location of critical populations) in Bushfire Management Area Plans
  • Implement hazard reduction (prescribed) burns across tenure (e.g. parks and surrounding properties, including private lands) to reduce the risk of catastrophic fires. (Continue existing efforts)
  • Influence planning policy affecting development in and around fire prone areas and high value biodiversity assets
  • Improve biodiversity information available to first responders (including location of critical populations)
  • Create seed banks as insurance against localised extinctions due to fire, and support the translocation of threatened species where needed
  • Raise community awareness of the need for hazard reduction (prescribed) burns and consult with landholders on their location and timing; target efforts towards new landholders
  • Promote the use of tree breaks or low flammability crops/pasture/garden plants, and general fire risk management actions in the broader community
  • Research and monitor the impacts of prescribed burns on ecosystems and individual species

Undertake restoration projects to increase habitat connectivity and species resilience to a range of threats

  • Undertake targeted habitat restoration to reduce the risk of localised species losses due to fire