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Reducing hazards, increasing biodiversity and restoring cultural practises at Dobies Bight

On the 24th September a prescribed burn was undertaken at Dobies Bight property an area of land owned by Casino Local Aboriginal Land Council. The total area of the property is 28.7Ha and although its relatively small size it represents a significant refuge for wildlife across a largely fragmented landscape. The property contains a number of endangered ecological communities, threatened species such as the Koala and many old growth trees that provide habitat for arboreal species such as the Greater Glider.

The 2.33Ha burn was carried out as a collaborative exercise betweenCasino Boolangle LALC, Casino RFS, Sextonville and Woodview volunteer RFS brigades, the Northern Rivers Fire and Biodiversity Consortium (NRFABCON) , Minyumai IPA rangers, Ngulingah Nimbin Rocks rangers and the Nature  Conservation Councils (NCC) Firestick project team.

The burn has been a long time coming with the volunteer brigade members recalling that the last time they attempted to burn the area was 7 years ago. Paula Coghill, Casino Boolangle LALC CEO said “We don’t own the land; the land owns us, as custodians we are to take care and responsibility for a role in the landscape of Australia. The burn at Dobies Bight was significant for the Casino Boolangle LALC as this is the first for our LALC properties. I am excited that it involved a collaborative approach which allowed a model of ‘Best Practice’ in sharing knowledge and experience in Caring for Country activities”.

The key objectives of the burn were to:

  •        reduce the risk of wildfire on life and property, protecting the assets (houses) surrounding the property 
  •        to protect ecological and cultural values on the property including Koalas and Scar Trees
  •        to restore native vegetation by applying fire to remove woody weeds,
  •      to assist local Aboriginal groups to gain further experience in planning and implementing a prescribed burns.

The property contains a large amount of environmental weeds such as lantana, coral trees, winter senna and ochna. The proliferation of a range of woody weeds, particularly dense lantana has greatly suppressed native species and increased fuel levels resulting in increased risk from wildfire events. The lantana was sprayed a few months prior to burning to help with the success of the burn and any regrowth will be followed up in the months to come to reduce the reinvasion of these weeds and the integrity of the property. 

Tara Patel , NRFABCON Coordinator said “the Community Safety Officer Bronwyn Waters and District Services Coordinator Boyd Townsend were both extremely helpful in processing the hazard reduction certificate, developing the burn plan, engaging State Mitigation Services to implement the control lines and engaging the local volunteer brigades to support and manage the burn on the day. A special thankyou to the Sextonville and Woodview brigades and their respective Captains Barry Morgan and Ray Porter for their assistance.”

NCC Firesticks Project Coordinator Richard Brittingham said “Every burn provides more opportunity to learn about restoring an extremely important cultural practice back into a highly modified and in most cases sick environment. The fact that we now have so many rangers and communities coming together to assist each other I think is a great result and sends a powerful message”.

The Northern Rivers Fire and Biodiversity Consortium (NRFABCON) would like to support, promote and congratulate all the organisations involved. If you would like to find out more about using fire as a management tool for improving biodiversity, cultural burning and other NRFABCON projects that are currently happening in the northern rivers go to www.nrfabcon.org.au/Projects/. For more information on the NCC Firesticks Project go to www.Firesticks.org.au

Photos by Tara Patel

Look who was caught in a camera trap returning after the fire


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