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NPWSSA Fire Side
Spring prescribed burns by National Parks and Wildlife Service SA

Prescribed burning through the ‘wettest spring since 2010’

This has been one of the longest spring prescribed burning seasons in recent years due to some interesting weather fluctuation. The Bureau of Meteorology called it the wettest spring since 2010!

We ended up finding a good number of suitable days to conduct our prescribed burns though, with most regions completing their programs, while others will continue as mild conditions persist.

Burns began at the end of August and will probably still be carried out on suitable days until close to Christmas. The patterns of wet/cool then dry and warm weather present opportunities but can also make planning a challenge as staff look for those days that are just right to achieve the best results.

The state-wide program is currently 85% complete and staff are hopeful we will reach 90% before it’s over, which is a really good result.

You can check on progress across the state via this interactive map.

Existing fire track on Kangaroo Island

Have your say on proposed fire access tracks on Kangaroo Island

A draft Management Plan for the Parks of Western and Central Kangaroo Island is currently available on YourSay for feedback. This plan has a section on managing fire in those parks into the future, and includes changes to fire access tracks in the Ravine des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area.

Community consultation is open until 17 December so be sure to get the full story from the draft plan and lodge your feedback before then.

Please note more detail will come in a Fire Management Plan for all parks on Kangaroo Island. This will be out for consultation in 2022 and we’ll keep you updated.

These key points from the draft management plan are a summary of what is being proposed:

  • Improve existing fire access tracks.
  • Create new fire access tracks in strategic locations using sensitive and sustainable design.
  • Gate new tracks to prevent public access, and audit annually to ensure they can be safely accessed by firefighting appliances for prescribed burning and bushfire response.
  • Temporary control lines may be required to supplement permanent fire access tracks.
  • Establish 2 new water tanks in Ravine des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area to help with fire suppression activities.

Any fire management works in wilderness protection areas are undertaken in accordance with the South Australian Code of Management for Wilderness Protection Areas and Zones. This code states that fire management will be informed by fire history, and to understand the impact of fire on natural communities and maintain wilderness quality.

Fire management will aim to reduce the likelihood of entire areas burning in a single event and improve ecological outcomes using prescribed burns.

Prescribed burning on private land in the Adelaide Hills
The prescribed burn in progress protecting homes in the hills

Record number of landholders work to make homes bushfire safer

The Burning on Private Lands Program continues to grow, setting a new record this season with 25 landholders working with us to include their land in a single prescribed burn in a high bushfire risk area in Crafers.

The burn included native vegetation on all private properties as well as in part of Cleland Conservation Park. Several homes were burnt in the Ash Wednesday Bushfires and were rebuilt, but they’re in a particularly risky situation being on top of a hill with a lot of native vegetation below them, as fire travels much faster uphill.

Working with private landholders helps reduce risk by reducing fuel closer to homes. And because a lot of the vegetation in the area hadn’t burnt for a long time, adding fire to the landscape will also benefit biodiversity, allowing a greater variety of plants the space and stimulus to germinate and re-emerge.

Watch part of the prescribed burn in action, and hear from one of the landholders and Fire Management Officer Derek, in this short video.

The prescribed burn will help make these homes safer and easier to defend from bushfires in the coming years.

A bandicoot captured on a motion camera in the Cherry Gardens fire scar
A bandicoot captured on a motion camera in the Cherry Gardens fire scar

New data is in for Cherry Gardens bushfire threatened species

Threatened species monitoring is underway following the January 2021 Cherry Gardens bushfire. Now we need your help to find our endangered animals from hundreds of thousands of images that have been captured.

Seventy motion detection cameras have been in place for around 2 months now, capturing all sorts of activity in Scott Creek Conservation Park and Mt Bold Reservoir. This will be our first look at how the landscape is recovering, and how these threatened species are responding as the vegetation regrows.

The results will help us understand how these threatened species are using unburnt areas, and how they are responding as the vegetation regrows.

Images are currently being uploaded to DigiVol, where you can log in and help identify threatened species such as the endangered southern brown bandicoot and Mt Lofty Ranges subspecies of the chestnut-rumped heathwren.

With your help, scientists will uncover how threatened species are responding, 10 to 12 months after such a significant fire event, as well as increase their understanding of how these animals use any unburnt locations in the area.

The best habitat for these species is in areas that have burnt in the last 5 to 25 years. Some heathy habitats around Mount Bold and Scott Creek haven’t burnt for a long time so they’re getting to the point that they no longer provide suitable homes for these threatened species. That’s why we’ll take what we can learn from the recent fire to help provide a balanced approach to planning future fire management activities in the landscape.

To build our knowledge on the behaviour of a range of threatened animals, data will continue to be collected through annual surveys so we can better manage them, including for future prescribed burns in this area as well as similar vegetation types elsewhere in the Mount Lofty Ranges where these species live.

Slashing bushfire risk in parks
Tractor slashing cured grass on the perimeter of a park

Slashing bushfire risk in parks

Every year in the lead up to Fire Danger Season we do a huge amount of slashing around the boundaries and along fire tracks of national parks and crown land to reduce bushfire risk over summer.

Over 400 hectares of land has been slashed in the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges region alone as part of this fuel reduction program.

Slashing is mostly done with tractors, but some areas are hard to access so slashing is done by hand with brush cutters by our Project Firefighters. Project Firefighters also help with track maintenance, preparing for and delivering prescribed burns, and firefighting.

Slashing fire breaks needs to be done at the right time, which varies each year depending on the conditions. The grass needs to be starting to cure (dry out), otherwise it’s likely to grow again and we would be right back where we started. That’s why staff monitor the grass to work out when the right time has arrived. Slashing generally starts in the north as these areas cure first, then move toward the southern parks.

We are often contacted by residents concerned about long grass near their homes. Please be patient as the program is in full swing and each park will be completed in time.

Fire management in our parks and reserves requires different approaches depending on vegetation type and location. Slashing, along with other mechanical treatments, fire track maintenance and prescribed burning are all vital to reduce bushfire risk in the most environmentally sensitive way possible.

Working with ForestrySA on the Limestone Coast

ForestrySA recently signed a 1-year agreement with National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to deliver seasonal fire prevention and response and some land management works in Native Forest Reserves in the Limestone Coast Region.

NPWS has worked with ForestrySA for many years and has expertise in fire and land management across SA including the Limestone Coast Region. The fire management team undertakes careful planning and safe delivery of prescribed burns and also works as a group of CFS brigades for fire response on all land tenures.

Under the agreement, as land manager/owner of Native Forest Reserves, ForestrySA retains responsibility for strategic planning and coordination of fire management, recreation and visitor management, conservation and land management activities.

NPWS Fire Management Program is responsible for delivering fire management and selected conservation and land management on ground works, including fire preparedness and response, prescribed burning, firebreak maintenance and slashing and minor weed control in these reserves.

A ForestrySA ranger will continue to focus on conservation, compliance and recreation activities in the reserves.

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