Bush Skills for the Hills Fire and the Ecology Workshop

A most interesting workshop was held on Saturday 26 June. Dr Mike Bamford of Bamford Consulting Ecologists took us through the complex topic of fire and the ecology. Mike talked about the effects fire has on different aspects of the natural environment such as, plants, animals, insects and soil. Fire can boost some plant species and others not seen for many years can reappear after fire. The impact of fire frequency was raised. Frequent fires have the ability to deplete the seed store of some plants as they do not have time, between fires, to set viable seed allowing for natural regeneration to occur.

The impact of post European settlement was noted as a contributing factor in increasing the fire vulnerability of an area. An example was given on the walk at Noble Falls where Mike compared the high density of relatively young Jarrah trees, a result of previous logging, with much larger trees most likely to have dotted the landscape as parkland trees prior to the area being logged. These large trees would have been nature’s hotels containing hollows for birds, mammals, reptiles etc. maintaining a more biodiverse landscape.

Traditional mosaic burning was used to care for country, the relevance in the current altered natural environment had a number of viewpoints. Mike stated the importance of long unburnt areas which are vital to some native species.

The conversation was vibrant and varied with many things touched on such as: climate change, habit loss for small mammals, fuel aeration, asset protection and prescribed burns.  This was an informative and interesting workshop that answered many questions. However, it was apparent that fire in Australia is a complex issue that does not have a “one size fits all” approach to management.

For those that attended the workshop, Mike Bamford’s PowerPoint will be emailed with his article ‘Fire and Australian landscapes; 15 million years in the making.’


Photos: EMRC