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Fire management at Mount Zero-Taravale
Fire management at Mount Zero-Taravale is relatively complex due to the range of ecosystems with different fire requirements and responses.
Prior to acquisition by AWC, there was little prescribed burning on the property. This resulted in a regime of occasional late dry season wildfires across large parts of sanctuary, while heavily grazed areas were rarely burnt, facilitating invasion by lantana. A lack of regular fire in tall wet sclerophyll forests, on the margins of rainforest, led to invasion of rainforest plants and loss of the grassy ground cover.
For the purposes of fire management across Mount Zero-Taravale, the property’s 73 ecosystems have been grouped into 8 broad vegetation types, with a specific fire prescription for each. For example, the tall wet sclerophyll forest with a grassy understory (preferred habitat for the Northern Bettong) is maintained by a program of frequent low intensity fires (every 2 to 3 years).
AWC’s prescribed burning is delivered through a mix of aerial incendiary operations and ground-based burning. Overall, the key objectives are to:
- re-establish a fine-scale mosaic of burnt and unburnt vegetation, of a range of ages since fire, across eucalypt forests and woodlands;
- restore a regular fire regime in the wet sclerophyll forests;
- protect rainforests from hot fire; and
- reduce the area of infestation of lantana.
In 2012 (2013 results still being analysed):
- Around 27% of the property was burnt in prescribed operations. Less than 1% was burnt in late season wildfires.
- 450 aerial incendiaries were dropped, while 118 kilometres of ground burning operations were conducted.