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Fuel Reduction Burns at Simpson’s Gap

— by Chris Watson

The Land for Wildlife Coordinators and other staff from Low Ecological Services were busy last week helping rangers and Bushfires NT with some controlled burns out at Simpson’s Gap.

This was the culmination of some training begun with the Basic Wildfire Awareness course. Getting the practical experience with the various techniques and equipment in the volunteer firefighter’s arsenal was a great way to fully understand the nature of wildfires and their control.

Cold afternoon, light breeze – perfect for controlled burns.

The fuel load throughout Central Australia is greater than it has been for many years and the various fire control authorities around the territory are busily burning in as many breaks as they can while the cool weather lasts. Fortunately the burns we did out at Simpson’s Gap were all well-controlled and didn’t even get big enough to show up as hot-spots on NAFI, the fire information website for northern Australia.

It was also interesting to see how the wildlife responded to the onset of fire. At the first whiff of smoke the birds were noticeably active. Fairy-wrens and Thornbills were on the move early to get out of the area. In the wake of the fire, Crested Bellbirds came in to work the scorched earth for invertebrate life that could be plucked out from the newly exposed ground. Above the fire front, Black Kites and Brown Falcons swooped after the myriad katydids and grasshoppers flushed by the heat and swept up into the air.

The fire hits a stand of Acacia victoriae. This species does well in disturbed areas and usually comes back very strongly following fires.
The flare-up doesn’t last long.

Bushfires NT are always looking for more volunteers. This season may prove to be one of the worst fire seasons for Central Australia in many years. If you have the time, fitness and inclination, you should get in touch with Bushfires NT and learn about how you can help out.

Click here for Bushfires NT volunteer information.