Managing fire for plant and animal conservation

A recent initiative from the Ecological Society of Australia is the publication of one-page ‘Hot Topics’ that synthesise ideas and issues important to environmental policy.

In 2017 I wrote a Hot Topic on ‘Managing fire for plant and animal conservation‘ with Angie Haslem (La Trobe) and Brett Murphy (Charles Darwin University). It’s just been republished in the journal Austral Ecology – along with five other widely read Hot Topics.

A simple – but often overlooked – point we emphasised is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to fire management. Natural ecosystems contain different species, have different fire regimes and present different fire risks to biodiversity and people. Fire management will be more effective when guided by local knowledge and based on the demonstrated requirements of plants and animals, as well as the habitats they depend on.

Having said that, much of my own research focuses on approaches and tools that can help us make useful generalisations about when and where fire can benefit plants and animals. The key to implementing such approaches is to ensure they are tailored to suit the needs of particular ecosystems and species.

You can read our Hot Topic, and summary of selected papers on pyrodiversity, here.

Kelly Haslem Murphy Managing fire for plant and animal conservation_Page_1

An aerial incendiary line in Kakadu National Park. The creation of fine-grained fire mosaics using prescribed burning is an objective of many fire managers. (Photo: Clay Trauernicht)


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