Fire and its management in central Australia
|Title||Fire and its management in central Australia|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2008|
|Authors||Edwards G. P., Allan G. E., Brock C., Duguid A., Gabrys K., & Vaarzon-Morel P.|
|Journal||The Rangeland Journal|
|Keywords||Aboriginal, biodiversity, Conservation, fire patterns, grazing management, natural resource management, pastoralism|
Over the last 130 years, patterns of land use in central Australia have altered dramatically, and so too have fire regimes and fire management objectives. Although Aboriginal people still have tenure over large parts of the landscape, their lifestyles have changed. Most Aboriginal people now live in towns and settlements and, although fire management is still culturally important, the opportunities for getting out on country to burn are constrained. Large parts of the landscape are now used for pastoral production. Under this land use the management objective is often one of fire exclusion. The other large-scale land use is for conservation. Here, fire management has a greater focus on conserving biodiversity using various burning strategies. In this paper we explore contemporary fire regimes in central Australia. Widespread fire events are found to be associated with two or more consecutive years of above-average rainfall. Although most of the fires linked with these high rainfall periods occur during the warmer months, in recent times these fires have exhibited increased activity during the cooler months. There has been a concomitant increase in the number and size of these fires and in the number of fires associated with roads. We also explored current fire management issues on Aboriginal, pastoral and conservation lands. Current fire management goals are not being wholly met on any of these land tenures in central Australia and social conflict sometimes emerges as a result. There are overlaps in management aims, issues and the under-achievement of desired outcomes across the land tenures which lead us to five key recommendations for improving fire management outcomes in central Australia. We finish with some comments on associated opportunities for livelihood enhancement based on the management of fire.