Kimberley fire patterns
A charred landscape after a late-dry season fire
Fire is a natural part of the Kimberley environment. However, in the past few decades’ fire patterns have changed – fires now occur on a much larger-scale and more frequently in the mid-to-late dry season (July-November). These fires typically recur in any one area every two years.
Changes in Kimberley fire patterns – higher frequency, larger size and increased intensity - have been associated with declines in threatened bird species, small mammal populations and sensitive vegetation communities. Late-dry season fires can cause the loss of huge areas of grass which result in a loss of pastoral potential. They can also cause extensive damage to cultural and sacred sites. For all sectors of the Kimberley community, addressing the problem of frequent massive fires is extremely important.
Tackling a problem of this scale is difficult. The Kimberley is vast and sparsely populated. Single fires often dwarf entire properties, making it hard for land managers to tackle the problem alone. Now under the guidance of EcoFire, fire management in the northern and central Kimberley is coordinated.
“Until you’re actually involved with a big fire and know all the details of what is going on and it’s your land at risk… it’s definitely the most heart-wrenching environmental thing that I’ve ever been through”
(Cait Westlake, Mount House-Glenroy Station).
“I have been involved with fire management in one way or another for a lot of my life. I have seen big changes in fire management through this period…The difference these days is that we now spend a lot less time burning the country early in the year”
(EcoFire Helicopter pilot Butch Maher has lived and worked in the Kimberley region since the early 1960s).