Eco-friendly fire regime
Fire is a vital component of much of the Australian environment, however the frequency and intensity of fires has changed considerably in the last 200 years since European settlement. These changes are thought to have contributed to the decline of many species of mammals, birds and fire sensitive plants.
Fire management varies considerably, from the tropical savannas of northern Australia, to the mesic forests of the south, thus each sanctuary has required the development and implementation of an individual fire management strategy, all with the aim of habitat conservation and restoration.
For example, the non-rainforest vegetation on Curramore sanctuary is dependent on fire for its survival. Without it, the ground cover and understorey will change to such an extent that the canopy can no longer regenerate, and the eucalypt and brush box forests may be replaced by simple vine forest communities.
At Karakamia sanctuary, wildfire needs to be prevented to protect the fragile Jarrah forest community that supports populations of reintroduced mammal, including the Woylie, Ringtail Possum, Southern Brown Bandicoot and Numbat that are reliant upon hollow logs and leaf litter accumulation that are only present without regular fire.
In contrast, at Mornington Sanctuary in the Kimberley, the fire management strategy involves use of prescribed burning by ground and aerial ignition to reduce the areas that are burnt in the mid to late dry season when fires tend to cover large areas, and increase burn area in the wet season, when fires tend to be smaller, and are extinguished quickly with rain, leading to a mosaic of burnt and unburnt patches that are thought to represent the pre-European norm.
An example of this program can be found at the following AWC sanctuaries;