Challenges for prescribed fire management in Australia's fire-prone rangelands-the example of the Northern Territory

Jeremy Russell-Smith, Andrew C. Edwards, Kamaljit K. Sangha, Cameron P. Yates, Mark R. Gardener

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Abstract

Northern Australia comprises by far the most fire-prone-half of a fiery continent, where fire frequencies range from annual in the tropical savannas to periodic very-extensive fire events following above-rainfall conditions in the central Australian rangelands. As illustration of the challenges facing effective fire management in Australia's 5.7 × 10 6 km 2 rangelands, we examine the status of contemporary prescribed burning activities in the Northern Territory, a 1.4 × 10 6 km 2 , very sparsely settled (0.18 persons km -2 ) jurisdiction characterised by vast flammable landscapes, few barriers to fire-spread, predominantly anthropogenic ignitions, and limited institutional resources and capacity. Unsurprisingly, prescribed-fire management is shown to be restricted to specific locales. For more effective, landscape-scale fire management, potential solutions include engagement with dispersed remote communities and incorporation of Indigenous Ranger Groups into the fire-management network, and building on the success of savanna-burning greenhouse gas emission projects as an example for incentivising landscape fire and emergency management services generally. Recently, significant steps have been taken towards implementing formal regional fire-management planning processes involving inclusive community-stakeholder engagement, and the setting of clearly defined time-constrained objectives and targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-353
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Volume29
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2019

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