Appropriate fire management practices, over the short and long term, are an important contributor to biodiversity. The impact of fire regimes is complex and affects various vegetation communities and species differently, for example the Burdekin rangelands is believed to be well adapted to fire (Ash, 2004), however this is not the case for rainforests. Appropriate fire management will vary depending on factors such as desired management outcomes, climate, terrain, flora and fauna, and the scale and patchiness of the ecosystems. Establishing a fire regime that varies in intensity, season, frequency and scale is essential for managing biodiversity and vegetation species compositions. Inappropriate or lack of fire regimes have been implicated as a threat for many fauna and flora species (McCullough & Musso, 2004).
The absence of an appropriate fire regime results in:
- a change in woodland structure (thickening);
- loss of riparian vegetation;
- loss of rare fauna and flora species;
- an increase in woody weeds; and
- poor land condition.
Thickening in particular is a widespread phenomenon on uncleared native vegetation where there is also a reduced frequency of fires. The lack of fire changes the structure of open woodlands by allowing saplings to grow out of the fire-sensitive phase (McCullough & Musso, 2004). This also causes a loss or change in ground layer plant species as the tree canopy becomes denser.
- Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing. (2012). Planned Burn Guidelines.
- Northern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook (Custodian: Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC).