Advice on minimising any potential impacts, and maximising any potential benefits, to threatened species from burning
What we mean?
Burning is an important factor to be considered in the management of many threatened species and their habitats. Burning can be unplanned, such as wildfire. However, burning can also be a planned activity designed to maintain the health of native vegetation and reduce fuel levels. Important aspects to be considered when planning a burn include:
- safety issues, including protection of life and property
- smoke impact on neighbours and the community
- season of the burn (autumn and spring are often favoured)
- when to burn in relation to the reproductive stages of affected plants and animals
- how often to burn (referred to as burning frequency)
- intensity of the burn (burns can be 'low intensity' or 'high intensity' depending on the amount of fuel present and how much of the fuel is actually burnt)
General points to consider
- If your planned burn has the potential to damage or kill threatened species (plant or animal), consider seeking advice from the Threatened Species Section. In some cases, a permit may be required.
- If in doubt, seek professional advice from an environmental consultant.
- If you are planning to burn during a fire permit period, you will need a permit from the Tasmanian Fire Service.
- Burns should only be carried out by those with appropriate experience and a good understanding of how to minimise the wide range of risks involved.
- See Planned Burning in Tasmania for a guide to conducting planned burns in Tasmania.
- Some plant species, plant communities and the animals that depend on them for habitat are negatively affected by burning. Examples include rainforest, swamp forest, riparian (river-side) vegetation and alpine vegetation.
- As a general rule, these 'fire-sensitive' vegetation types should never be burned.
- Other plants and plant communities may benefit from, or even require, burning. Fire stimulates seed germination and growth in some native plant species, while reducing competition or over-growth of other plants. Stimulation of plant growth can in turn increase food availability for foraging animal species.
- See the Bushcare Toolkit for general advice on fire management of different vegetation types.
- Burning streamside vegetation can have an impact on aquatic species, through the rapid input of ash into the waterway and from increased run-off which can occur when vegetation cover is removed.
- Where more than one threatened species occurs at a site, you may be faced with apparently conflicting advice on fire management. This apparent conflict may indicate that you have more than one vegetation type on your property.
- For example, you may have a threatened dry forest orchid (which requires regular burning for regeneration), and a riparian (stream-side) species which is intolerant of burning. To tailor fire management for these two species and their respective vegetation types, you need to know which vegetation types occur on your property as well as where they occur.
- Always avoid indiscriminate and unplanned burning of habitat.
- While controlled burns can reduce the risk of wildfire by reducing fuel loads, fires lit during inappropriate times (e.g. dry and windy conditions) have the potential to escape control.
- The rate of vegetation recovery after a fire may vary greatly between areas. Always have a good look at the vegetation to check whether it is appropriate to burn again.
- The greatest risk that burning presents to most fauna is during their breeding season, when they are least able to move away from a fire due to caring for young. Burning impacts will therefore be lessened if burning is carried out outside a species' breeding season.
- Burning during extended periods of drought is not recommended as germination and regeneration of native plants may be less successful compared to wetter years.
- Leaving patches of unburnt vegetation is often beneficial to native species. These unburnt patches can provide refuge for fauna and a source of seed for regenerating plants.
- Remember! Plan before you burn.
The agencies most commonly responsible for regulating this activity are listed below (but refer also to the Permits section on the Planning Ahead