Prescribed burning clinic lights up potential on Sunshine Coast
The Centre of Excellence hosted its second successful prescribed burning clinic on the Sunshine Coast earlier this year, in cooperation with the South East Queensland (SEQ) Fire and Biodiversity Consortium, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES). The clinic brought together practitioners from three states, representing five organisations:
- Tasmania: Tasmania Fire Service
- Victoria: Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning; Parks Victoria; Mt Alexander Shire
- Western Australia: Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions
Over the course of a week, participants engaged with land managers, fire agencies and other stakeholders to understand current planning and modelling tools and prescribed burning approaches used in Queensland.
“Clinics are central to what the Centre of Excellence does,” said Centre of Excellence coordinator Deb Sparkes. “We bring practitioners together to share ideas, increasing engagement across agencies and jurisdictions. It’s important to share knowledge about the different challenges prescribed burners face, and the different approaches they take.”
Presentations were delivered by a range of key public, private and non-government stakeholder organisations, including Bush Heritage Australia; Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation; City of Gold Coast; Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF); Department of Transport and Main Roads; Healthy Land and Water (HLW); HQ Plantations; Powerlink; QFES; QPWS; Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation; SEQ Fire and Biodiversity Consortium; Stockland; Sunshine Coast Council; and the University of Queensland.
The clinic group by the 'Fishing Hole' on the Aura development estate, Caloundra, on the Sunshine Coast, South East Queensland.
The clinic included a visit to the Aura development site, owned and managed by Stockland. Bushfire mitigation is business as usual at the site – incoming residents are advised that prescribed burning is part of risk management on the estate. Stockland are working with the Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation, QFES and HLW to support Traditional Owners to increase their capacity for cultural burning on conservation sites within the estate. This is part of the Aura Community Stewardship Program, facilitated by HLW to increase engagement with local landholders and improve land management outcomes.
“The Stockland component was especially interesting and inspiring.”
Tony English, Parks Victoria
Participants also visited two of Australia’s longest running scientific plots (near Beerwah and Peachester), jointly managed by QPWS and DAF. These experiments have been investigating the effects of repeated prescribed burning since the early 1970s; plots are burnt with a two to five-year frequency (depending on the site) and compared to adjacent control plots where fire has been excluded. Even the plots burnt most frequently contain a high diversity of plant species and constitute unique ecosystems.
The clinic illustrated the positive working relationships across numerous agencies in South East Queensland and the growth of cross-tenure burning, as well as the unique role of the SEQ Fire and Biodiversity Consortium stakeholder engagement. Participants reflected on measures to balance life and property protection with biodiversity and land management values.
“The topics get you thinking, ‘What are you doing’? Could you be doing it better?”
Simon Brown, Forest Fire Management Victoria
The Centre of Excellence was thrilled to host this event with the generous support of all the agencies involved. Learnings will be directed towards development of future clinics and forums as the Centre continues to support national connectedness of people to each other and to Country.