Protecting long unburnt mallee

News article |

A weekend prescribed burn at Ironstone Hill, on the highway and near Iron Duke, has created a low fuel area which will minimise the chance of a large bushfire, like that of the 1990 Cooyerdoo fire, causing significant and widespread damage.

The fire in 1990 burnt 15,675 Ha, (32km long and up to 12km wide), through spinifex dominated Mallee Heath.

Natural Resources Landscape Biologist, Dr Greg Kerr, said we plan our prescribed burn program to protect large patches of spinifex and long unburnt mallee (50+ years) because it provides so much of the critical habitat for a wide variety of species.

“Old growth mallee provides critical habitat for a diverse range of bird, mammal and reptile species,” he said.

“We try to maximize the area of spinifex in the 20-50 year age group as this too provides maximum productive habitat for the widest diversity of species.”

“Hollows, upon which many wildlife species depend, only start to develop in mallee after 50+ years after fire,” he said

The Nationally Vulnerable Sandhill Dunnart population occurs sporadically across the Middleback range. This species is believed to have declined because of a marked change

from the historical patchy burning used by the Aboriginal peoples to infrequent large scale wild fire.

Sandhill Dunnarts are meat eating marsupials, about the size of a rat, that have only been recorded a few times on Eyre Peninsula and in the Great Victoria Desert. The Sandhill Dunnart shelters in spinifex of a certain age after fire and was recorded near Hambidge Conservation Park near Lock in 1969 and then again near Ironstone Hill in 2000.

Like many native animals, Sandhill Dunnarts survive with the right fire history in place and are likely at risk from introduced foxes and cats.

For more online information please visit our prescribed burn program or the fire management program webpage.

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