Planned burns in northern national parks

Issued: 29 May

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) has commenced its early dry season burning program across parks and reserves from Townsville to Cape York and west to the Gulf of Carpentaria.

QPWS Northern Regional Director Alison Webb said strategic management of fire was an important tool for the conservation and management of many plant and animal communities across Northern Region.

"In our annual planned burning program, we aim to carry out controlled burns across a large area of the landscape," Ms Webb said.

"In 2018, we carried out burns across approximately 640,000 ha of the north Queensland park estate, with a similar figure planned for 2019.

"QPWS manages approximately 4.5 million hectares in this region. We aim to do low-intensity cool burns on up to 15 percent of that land each year, which is an ambitious but achievable objective.

"Burning early in the dry season creates a mosaic of burnt and unburnt patches to maintain and enhance habitat for plants and animals. It can also help to reduce the extent and impact of large, late-season wildfires.

"Controlled burning in our parks helps to limit the impacts of fires moving across boundaries with our neighbours, especially late in the year when fires are hotter and more destructive.

"QPWS plans and carries out burns in co-operation with Traditional Owners, neighbours, graziers and other government departments to achieve the most desirable social, cultural and environmental outcomes for all stakeholders.

"Traditional Owners of two national parks (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land) have developed carbon offset projects, which use low-intensity early season burning to prevent hot, late season wildfires and enable them to trade carbon credits that result from the reduced greenhouse emissions.

"Traditional Owners of other parks are also exploring these opportunities.

"QPWS works with its joint management partners to plan early season burning to support these innovative projects and to ensure that natural and cultural heritage is maintained through appropriate fire management," Ms Webb said.

Rinyirru (Lakefield) Aboriginal Land Trust Senior Ranger, Mr Les Harrigan, laid out the benefits of planned burning.

"Co-operative burning, for the protection of communities, conservation and cultural purposes, greatly enables the sharing of skills and experience between Traditional Owners and QPWS rangers – it is a positive move forward," Mr Harrigan said.