Background:

Defence occupied land forms a significant portion of Queensland’s landscape and fire management of these areas has complex objectives. The location of many Defence properties on the urban-rural interface means balancing the impacts on neighbouring properties of various tenures and the impacts of burning on high-density areas. The vastness of the Defence properties has implications for multiple use, including recreational use by the public such as camping in adjoining sites, and thus multiple values of the broader community must be considered when implementing a fire program.

Townsville Field Training Area
Photo FFEC: 27.06.14 Burns alternated along a watercourse to prevent late season fire impact

In 2013 Townsville Field Training Area (TFTA) was supporting large areas of homogenous vegetation as a result of frequent and sometimes large and high intensity burns experienced in successive seasons. FFEC were engaged to implement burns and they commenced as early in the season as possible.

These burns while still achieving the objectives of reducing hazardous fuels, protecting assets and mitigating the risk of fire during military exercises, aimed to encourage a heterogeneous landscape promoting diversity and subsequently a healthy ecosystem. This was by achieved by changing areas that were previously supporting large single-aged stands of vegetation to a landscape tapestry of fire scars under multiple-timings and unburnt areas creating refugia for fauna.

 

 

TFTA fire scars aerial
Photo FFEC: 17.07.14 Aerial burn scars showing behaviour and momentum of burns

Main Objectives:

  1. Undertake planned burns to develop fire scar breaks preventing the spread of wildfire across TFTA and the spread of wildfire from Defence land to neighbouring private properties.
  2. Undertake planned burns surrounding infrastructure to mitigate fuel loads threatening infrastructure security.
  3. Develop a mosaic fire scar pattern encouraging a heterogeneous landscape capable of mitigating wildfire and improving ecosystem health.

 

TFTA fire program 2014
Photo FFEC: 03.07.14 Mosaic burns established to break up a homogeneous landscape

Outcomes:

Over two years (2013 and 2014) FFEC successfully began shifting the 243,700Ha property back towards a diverse savannah woodland shaped by a tapestry of both low and moderate intensity fire scars.

A total of 11,588 ha of patch burns were completed in 2014 building on fire scars from 2013 to commence the creation of an environment that would continue to support habitat opportunities for a variety of native flora and fauna. These patch burns were strategically placed to compliment 367.09km of infrastructure/boundary protection burns later in the season resulting in robust wildfire mitigation over the property.

 

TFTA controlled burning
Photo FFEC: 17.07.14 Landscape-scale fire scars showing minimal canopy scorch