Fire has long been a part of the natural functioning of Australia's natural environment and has played a large role in maintaining the richness, composition and diversity of many of our plants, animals and ecosystems.
Why is ecological burning used in Bayside?
The inland bushland reserves of Bayside contain classes of vegetation that have evolved with fire and are now dependent on it to germinate, flower or set seed.
Smoke from fires triggers the germination of seeds that lie dormant in the soil. Fire is also particularly effective in controlling invasive weeds, especially Coastal Tea-tree, which quickly dominates resources such as light, water and soil nutrients, effectively smothering the smaller heath species.
For over 20 years, we have been successfully using controlled ecological burning, as recommended by various biological and ecological experts, in conjunction with hand weeding and planting, to maintain the health of our reserves.
George St Heathland Sanctuary, dominated by Tea Tree and weeds before burn (2006). (Courtesy P.Reynolds)
George St Heathland Sanctuary, heath species in full bloom, 2 years post burn, (2008) (Image Courtesy P.Reynolds)
How are ecological burns carried out?
Our Open Space Contractor, Citywide, carries out one ecological burn per year in one of our inland conservation reserves (usually in Autumn). Burns are restricted to a maximum of 1000m2 to help maintain a mosaic of vegetation ages in the bushland and to ensure the burn is easily controlled.
We undertake each ecological burn according to a site specific Ecological Burn Plan (EBP), which lists all of the key operational actions required to undertake a safe and controlled burn.
How are impacts to the community minimised?
To ensure that any short-term impacts from smoke are minimised, the following steps are taken prior to a burn:
- All residents within a 250m radius of the burn site are notified.
- The following agencies are notified:
- Metropolitan Fire Brigade
- Environmental Protection Authority
- Emergency Services Bureau
- and the local police and fire brigade.
- Prevailing weather and air quality conditions are considered on the day of the burn to ensure that conditions are optimal to undertake the burn safely.