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Appropriate Fire Management

Adaptation Pathway

Every year large areas of Cape York Peninsula burn at the wrong time, affecting the health and function of the landscape. Many vegetation types burn too hot, and some of these places should instead be protected from fire. The impacts of ongoing poor fire management in Cape York are not well understood. This adaptation pathway identifies actions that work toward improving governance of fire management on Cape York. The pathway brings together organisations and land managers of geographical clusters to work together across landscapes. The actions will connect people to exchange knowledge, collate information and data, develop technical resources, provide on-ground resources and provide training in implementing and monitoring of fire.

This will occur by supporting both western and Indigenous fire knowledge holders and practitioners to improve implementation of contemporary fire practice.

How was it identified

Poor fire management practices are a well-known issue on Cape York. Cape York NRM identified this as a key pathway through listening to the community's big concerns via long-term engagement, development of the regional investment strategy, experience in implementing landscape scale fire projects and years of delivering the Indigenous Fire Workshop.

Cape York NRM analysed the past 15 years of fire history on Cape York in addition to previous and current fire projects and research papers. This analysis has been further informed by partnerships with Traditional owners, scientists and technical experts as well as discussions with research bodies and Government organisations implementing and developing the savannah burning methodology. Cape York NRM have been developing monitoring tools with Cape York NRM’s regional delivery partners, developing and sharing resources with land managers, undertaking case studies, meeting with Carbon businesses and working with land managers implementing fire projects.

Fire is a critical factor in the context of climate change impacts on Cape York, as discussed by the regional climate reports.






  • Conduct workshops and engagement to identify values, aspirations, knowledge and methods across the landscape.

  • Collate surveys and quotes from interviews at events such as the Indigenous Fire Workshop.

  • Support the North Australia Fire Information service to monitor fire by satellite.

  • Map and categorise vegetation into fire types.

  • Improve understanding of impacts of fire management on land condition and water quality

  • Increase on-ground monitoring


  • Facilitate Indigenous-led on-country fire workshops to collectively learn and build on people's techniques and knowledge for appropriate fire management.

  • Trial cluster-based fire management with advice from fire experts, to collectively learn about the effects and impacts of appropriate burning, including savannah burning methodologies through the Carbon Farming Initiative.

  • Conduct training and skills development for appropriate burning and monitoring techniques and tools.

  • Support land managers to plan for and build skills in implementing and monitoring fire management.

  • Support development of skilled fire managers.


  • Develop priorities for management across clusters of properties.

  • Analyse the results of burn trials.

  • Identify key field resources and people to support fire management.

  • Seek information and knowledge on the effects of different fire regimes on ecosystems, including water quality.

Example Monitoring Indicator

  • Monitoring and analysis of fire scar information through NAFI.

  • Increase in on-ground monitoring of ignition and photo-points.

  • Improvements in number of groups communicating fire management programs.

  • Establishment of water quality monitoring sites related to fire management.

  • Increase in resources and tools to support improving fire management.

  • Improved ground cover throughout the year improving land condition and water quality.


  • Using fire to adapt to a changing climate will improve ecosystem resilience and reduce the threats to threatened species.

  • Changing fire patterns is one of the key impacts of climate change.

  • Implementing this pathway fits with people's aspirations and values for Cape York, thus

    facilitating improved coordination.

  • Selecting the most appropriate burning practice for each landscape depends on the value of the

    people involved and the land being managed.

  • Working together will help to develop ecologically and culturally appropriate burning practices

    for the target clusters.

  • Fire is one of the key threats to biodiversity and ecosystem health and key barriers to higher grazing productivity.


  • Carbon sequestration and mitigation through the Carbon Farming Initiative.

  • Integration of fire management with other landscape uses and management activities, such as

    weed control, can lead to multiple outcomes.

  • Positive social outcomes from working together to protect similar values across clusters of


  • Social and cultural benefits and improved knowledge.

  • Benefits of improved land condition and water quality through increased ground cover late in

    the season.


  • Reduction in late season hot fires.
  • Improved biodiversity and ecosystem health.

  • Reduction in risks to properties.

  • Improved grazing land productivity.

  • Improved resilience to climate change.

  • Improved skills and knowledge.

  • Improved collaborations.