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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Feb 2019

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Northern Territory
fire management
prescribed burning
rangeland
rangelands
savanna
savannas
planning process
fire spread
stakeholder
greenhouse gas
greenhouse gas emissions
rainfall
stakeholders
resource
planning
rain

Cite this

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title = "Challenges for prescribed fire management in Australia's fire-prone rangelands-the example of the Northern Territory",
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.",
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Challenges for prescribed fire management in Australia's fire-prone rangelands-the example of the Northern Territory. / Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Edwards, Andrew C.; Sangha, Kamaljit K.; Yates, Cameron P.; Gardener, Mark R.

In: International Journal of Wildland Fire, 27.02.2019, p. 1-15.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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