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Coordinated burn in southern Cape

Words and photo Jessie Price-Decle

Late season fires can destroy habitat, threaten property and livestock, and scorch groundcover leaving country vulnerable to erosion. Fighting fires is also a significant drain on people’s time and resources.

To protect themselves and their land, some managers burn off parts of their properties soon after the wet season in order to create fire breaks and reduce fuel loads. This is often done only
when the land manager has the opportunity, and
is an exercise in logistics: shifting stock, warning neighbours, utilising helicopters to light fires in remote terrain, and bringing in resources to manage the burn.

In a bid to increase efficiency, reduce costs,
improve communication and reduce the chance
of controlled burns becoming wildfires, South
Cape York Catchments (SCYC) is managing a coordinated, early burn program which has
multiple landholders working together to plan and implement their burns. The landholders are working with Cape York NRM staff and SCYC, and working collectively is making a difference economically and environmentally.

Together, they have shared experiences, shaped burn plans, and designed aerial incendiary runs. Helicopter time has been funded by Cape York NRM’s Reef Trust III project and South Cape York Catchments won a grant to purchase an aerial incendiary machine, which is further reducing aerial burning costs for these landholders.

Cape York Healthy Country Newsletter

Burning took place in June and July, and an evaluation of the pilot project will be available in August.

Thanks to the Australian Government’s Reef Trust III program for project funding, and to the Queensland Government’s Gambling Community Benefit Fund for funding the purchase of the aerial incendiary machine.