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Guidelines for ecological burning regimes in Mediterranean ecosystems: a case study in Banksia woodlands in Western Australia

journal contribution
posted on 2014-05-01, 00:00 authored by Barbara Wilson, Janine k, Valentine LE, Sonneman T, Wolfe KM
In Mediterranean ecosystems prescribed burning is commonly employed to reduce the risk or intensity of wildfires.
As a consequence, a major challenge for conservation land managers is the development of fire regimes that reduce
damaging wildfires and are optimal for biodiversity. The aim of this paper was to develop guidelines for ecological fire
regimes using the Banksia woodland on the Gnangara Groundwater System in Western Australia as a case study.
Development of the guidelines involved the determination of maximum and minimum fire intervals of key fire response
species, analyses of fire history records and estimation of ideal age class distributions at the landscape level.
Recommendations included a) adoption of a minimum fire interval of 8–16 years, b) implementation of a burning regime
to redress the current skewed distribution (60%: 1–7 years since last fire), c) retention of long-unburnt habitats that
are significant for species such as the critically endangered Calyptorhynchus latirostris (Carnaby’s black-cockatoo), and
Tarsipes rostratus (honey possum), and d) protection for wetlands that can serve as fire ‘refugia’ for associated species,
such as Isoodon obesulus fusciventer (southern brown bandicoot or quenda). The guidelines developed provide a model
for the development of ecological burning regimes in other similar ecosystems. The implementation of ecological
guidelines normally involves incorporation into fire management planning by fire agencies and often entails complex
solutions to conflicting aims. The guidelines are thus valuable for ecologists and land managers, especially in light of
an expected significant increase in global fire activity as a consequence of predicted climate change.



Pacific conservation biology






57 - 74


CSIRO Publishing


Clayton, Vic.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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2014, CSIRO