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Guidelines for ecological burning regimes in Banksia woodlands: challenges in a peri-urban system in Western Australia

Wilson, B., Valentine, L., Kuehsa, J., Sonneman, T. and Wolfe, K.M. (2012) Guidelines for ecological burning regimes in Banksia woodlands: challenges in a peri-urban system in Western Australia. In: Ecological Society of Australia, Annual Conference, 3 - 7 December, Melbourne, Australia.


Background/question/methods: In Mediterranean ecosystems a major challenge for land managers is the development of fire regimes that are optimal for biodiversity and reduce the occurrence of damaging wildfires. The aim of this study was to develop guidelines for ecological fire regimes in a peri-urban landscape dominated by remnant Banksia woodlands. Tolerable fire intervals of key fire flora and fauna response species were determined based on plant juvenile periods and fauna requirements, and fire history over four decades was analysed. Temporal and spatial distribution of post-fire ages at the landscape and local scales were assessed and ideal age class distributions estimated.

Results/conclusions: Based on tolerable fire intervals it was recommended that a minimum fire interval of 8-16 years be adopted for the woodland communities. The fuel age distribution at the landscape level and within major vegetation communities was highly skewed to 1-6 years post-fire age and areas of old fuel age (>21 years) were very low. The current fire regime has implications for key flora and fauna species, particularly those that require long-unburnt Banksia woodlands, such as the critically endangered Carnaby’s black-cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris), honey possum (Tarsipes rostratus) and common dwarf skink (Menetia greyii). Planning to protect and increase areas of long-unburnt vegetation is recommended for these species. Susceptible biota associated with wetlands (southern brown bandicoot Isoodon obesulus, water rat Hydromys chrysogaster) also require protection from frequent fire. The guidelines provide a model for ecological burning regimes for optimal biodiversity outcomes in similar Mediterranean ecosystems.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
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