On the 24th September a prescribed burn was undertaken at Dobies Bight property an area of land owned by Casino Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC). The total area of the property is 28.7Ha and although it’s relatively small in size it represents a significant refuge for wildlife across a largely fragmented landscape. The property contains a number of endangered ecological communities, threatened species such as the koala and many old growth trees that provide habitat for arboreal species such as the Greater Glider.
The 2.33Ha burn was carried out as a collaborative exercise between Casino Boolangle LALC, Minyumai IPA rangers, Ngulingah Nimbin Rocks rangers, Casino RFS, Sextonville and Woodview volunteer RFS brigades, the Northern Rivers Fire and Biodiversity Consortium (NRFABCON), and the Firesticks project team. The burn has been a long time coming with the volunteer brigade members recalling that the last time they attempted to the burn the area was 7 years ago.
The key objectives of the burn were to:
- to reduce the risk of wildfire on life and property, protecting the assets (houses) surrounding the property
- to protect ecological and cultural values on the property including koalas and Scar Trees
- to restore native vegetation by applying fire to remove woody weeds; and
- to assist local Aboriginal groups to gain further experience in planning and implementing a prescribed burn
The property contains a large amount of environmental weeds such as lantana, coral trees, winter senna and ochna. The proliferation of a range of woody weeds, particularly dense lantana has greatly suppressed native species and increased fuel levels resulting in increased risk from wildfire events. The lantana was sprayed a few months prior to burning to help with the success of the burn and any regrowth will be followed up in the months to come to reduce the re-invasion of these weeds and the integrity of the property.
The challenges of this burn provided some valuable insight and learning for the ranger teams and although the grassy areas burnt easily, the suspended fuels of the lantana and other woody weeds did not burn as much as was anticipated. A mixture of environmental conditions such as rain from the previous day and a cool southerly wind that kept changing directions prohibited the burn from taking hold in some areas.
Community Safety Office Bronwyn Waters and District Services Coordinator Boyd Townsend were both extremely helpful in processing the hazard reduction certificate, developing the burn plan, engaging State Mitigation Services to implement the control lines and engaging the local volunteer brigades to support and manage the burn on the day. A special thank you to the Sextonville and Woodview brigades and their respective Captains Barry Morgan and Ray Porter for their assistance.
Firesticks Project Coordinator Richard Brittingham said:
“Every burn provides more opportunity to learn about restoring an extremely important cultural practice back into a highly modified and in most cases sick environment. The fact that we now have so many rangers and communities coming together to assist each other I think is a great result and sends a powerful message.”