There was so much information from the CCMA workshop on ecological burning that I decided to post some more from my notes. Participants at the workshop would have gained a good understanding on the intricacies of burning and that there is a long way to go to get more ecological burning back into the landscape.
One of the benefits of burning roadsides is to make them safer. Some weeds make roadsides unsafe. Police in the south west are pleased to see roadsides burnt as it helps to reduce accidents. Phalaris, an environmental weed on roadsides, grows very tall and may hide kangaroos which jump out and cause accidents. Native grass is not as tall and thick and kangaroos are more visible. Kangaroo grass greens up after rain and grows over summer providing less fuel for fires.
If we involve those who work on roadsides such as grader operators, they learn about the value of grasslands and gain a better understanding of why they need to work in certain ways to prevent weed spread. Taking those involved on working on roadsides on bus trips provides a positive experience especially if participants are given grassland brochures and asked to find a few species.
Promote the good things that are happening. If CFA brigades that are involved in roadside burns are kept informed about projects on roadsides and participate in workshops they develop more ownership and keep a closer eye on roadsides.
When there are fire restrictions in place you will need a permit to burn. Fire breaks are required. Burning is very bureaucratic within the fire restriction period and you can’t burn before 10am if you want to.
CFA brigades choose to burn and there is no legislation that says they have to burn. Here is a link to a video about the Glenelg Hopkins CMA and the CFA working together to get better burning on roadsides.
Private landholders may choose to burn outside the fire restriction period which is usually from late April depending on the season. They usually choose to burn from a mown break as graded and ploughed breaks are expensive to put in and maintain and may allow weeds to take hold. They also can have more flexibility on the time of day for burning.
Getting burns to happen is difficult with fewer workers employed on farms and more contractors employed for specific work. There are less private trucks and fewer volunteers.
Burning on private land is difficult. There are less skilled people and it is expensive to employ contractors. The CFA don’t want to assist as it is seen as an extra activity and it is hard to get extra people to assist. There is a lot of pressure to burn.
Traditional Owner burning is not the same as ecological burning. It may have ecological outcomes but it is done for different outcomes and has a strong cultural element. Here is a link to a burn at Teesdale.
Native grass has more protein that exotic grasses and markets are developing for the seed. The price of kangaroo grass seed has sky rocketed recently as interest grows. The management of grassland is expensive and there is a need to look for economic opportunities. Some Traditional Owners are becoming more involved in land management including burning and investigating new markets for native plant produce.