Bemboka Landcare - A cool burning passion

Using fire to manage Lowland Grassy Woodland Endangers Ecological Communities in the Bega Valley Shire.

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Bemboka Landcare - A cool burning passion

Using fire to manage Lowland Grassy Woodland Endangers Ecological Communities in the Bega Valley Shire.

The issue

To implement a management strategy for the listed Endangered Ecological Community - Lowland Grassy Woodland at the Bemboka River Reserve using fire. This plant community once occupied most of the farming areas of the Bega Valley, but has mostly been cleared or much modified by grazing and invasion of pasture grasses and weeds.  The reserve is 16 hectares of mixed Red Gum, Yellow Box and Stringybark woodland, and native grassland. Since its management was taken over by Bega Valley Shire Council and the fences repaired, grazing has ceased and a new means of managing the grassy understorey had to be found.

Occasional well-timed grazing is one way to manage the grassland, but these days it carries a strong risk of importing the seeds of noxious weeds such as African Lovegrass in or on the livestock.  Fire is the safer method.

The solution

The Bemboka Landcare Group engaged the services of a local botanist to advise the group on management aims and techniques. Once a strategy was developed they liaised with the local volunteers at the Bemboka Rural Fire Service (RFS) and completed their first burn of the reserve in 2013, with the western side of the reserve targeted. It has been tricky to get the necessary weather conditions and RFS volunteer availability aligned, but after a few attempts a second burn was achieved in September this year.

The impact

Grassy woodlands need active management in the higher rainfall areas of the coastal strip, compared with those on the tablelands and slopes, or they can rapidly convert to dense forests of regrowth trees and shrubs.  This can shade out many of the native grasses and wildflowers which are typical of this community. The fire management plan established and implemented by the Bemboka volunteers has ensured that one of the best examples of Lowland Grassy Woodland in the Bega Valley will remain healthy. It is hoped that future burns will also involve the Bega Local Aboriginal Land Council working on country. They are currently undertaking training with the RFS Hotspot Program.

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Key facts

  • Protection of 16 Ha of Endangered Ecological Community – Lowland Grassy Woodland.
  • Collaboration between groups.
  • Plans to increase involvement in the project over time.

Project Partners