Fire Management - Red Gum Forests

The following is an Abstract from a paper submitted by Barrie Dexter to the Natural Resources Commission, NSW on 3 August 2012. The link below leads you to that submission and an additional submission of 15 November 2012.

Fire history and fire management to conserve social, economic and environmental values in floodplain river red gum forests.
  • Flooding & fire are the major factors in the dynamics of the Riverina/Central Murray floodplain river red gum forests.
  • Frequency, season & duration of flooding control the timing & extent of prescribed fire & the influence of lightning-sourced fire. Prolonged drought produces an 8-10 month serious fire risk.
  • Wildfire is not such a dominant feature of the forests, compared with the foothill & mountain forests, but they are highly sensitive to fire.
  • Fire danger is high to extreme on many days each year exacerbated by drought conditions & lack of active forest management in some forests.
  • "Broad-acre" fuel reduction burning is not an accepted practice & has the potential to significantly harm many values & uses. As yet, there are no prescriptions for prescribed burning many of the ecological vegetation classes [EVCs] in the floodplain forests. Grassy & herbaceous fuels make a significant contribution to the fine fuel load. A detailed description is provided on the role of these fuels in fire management.
  • Controlled grazing of domestic stock is useful for seasonally reducing the grassy and palatable weed component of fine fuels to more manageable levels from a forest fire management perspective and meet minimum parameters for the conservation of grasses without compromising other biological values.
  • It is concluded that there is no point in introducing inappropriate prescribed burning & failing to quickly & aggressively suppress wildfire, both of which reduce to ash & charcoal essential ecological values requiring conservation.
  • River red gum forest destroyed by wildfire must be regenerated & actively managed under the principles of ecologically sustainable development.