AWC fire management underway in the Kimberley

AWC fire management underway in the Kimberley
Charnley River – Artesian Range | Mornington-Marion Downs | Tableland
Field Program
Fire management
Gouldian Finch | Purple-crowned Fairy-wren | Northern Quoll

March 2016: Prescribed burning is now underway in the Kimberley as part of AWC’s award-winning fire management program, EcoFire. This year our field staff are expected to drop around 50,000 aerial incendiaries, flying approximately 30,000km as well as conducting strategic ground burning.

Initial burns focussed on the area around the research centre and along Annie Creek, with the aim of protecting fire-sensitive riparian vegetation, and buildings and infrastructure. Aerial burning has begun in the southern part of the sanctuary, targeting spinifex in the sandstone ranges, which burns more readily than other vegetation.

AWC staff consulted neighbouring landholders, pastoralists, indigenous communities and representatives from local and state agencies to plan EcoFire for 2016, which is being delivered across 11 properties, covering 3 million hectares in the central Kimberley.

The 2016 program builds on the past 10 years of EcoFire, which has more thanhalved the area burnt by wildfires in the late dry season, and more than​ doubled the area of old growth vegetation across 3 million hectares. 

Effective fire management is critical to delivering effective conservation for small mammals such as the Northern Quoll and threatened birds like the Gouldian Finch. AWC’s ecological health monitoring demonstrates that with effective fire management (and destocking of feral herbivores), small mammal populations can increase significantly – Mornington is the remarkable exception in that it has increased small mammal populations while across northern Australia numbers have plummeted. 

Our fire management strategy is crucial for a range of threatened seed-eating birds like the Gouldian Finch, which rely on access to long-unburnt spinifex on which to feed.