Fire is recognised as a natural and essential requirement for the longterm health and viability of bushland and associated wildlife species in Ipswich. Managing fire in bushland areas is vital for the protection of surrounding homes, properties and structures and important in maintaining healthy, functioning ecosystems and habitats. A key element of fire management is how both residents and council prepare and manage their bushland areas in order to mitigate risks and aid in ecosystem and habitat management. To achieve this, council and Ipswich residents must work together for the most effective approach - bushland fire management is very much a shared responsibility.
Council owns and manages approximately 6,700 hectares of natural area estate across the city, including conservation/environmental estates, parks and reserves. Undertaking hazard reduction burns across the ten locations that make up Ipswich’s natural area estate is a key proactive management tool used to achieve balanced outcomes. Planned management activities are undertaken in a careful and proactive way to maintain the health of these areas and reduce the impact of wild fires. Activities include:
A hazard reduction burn is used to:
Council utilises mapping resources to identify areas that have a potential bushfire hazard across these reserves and estates. This is combined with other on-ground assessments to identify risk. This information is used to inform an overarching and streamlined strategic plan that addresses the way the natural area estate is to be managed for fire. High-risk areas are prioritised for hazard reduction burns or other treatments designed to reduce the amount or structure of fuel loads.
See information below regarding planned within Ipswich’s natural area estate. Estates or reserves (or parts of) subject to prescribed burns, are closed to the public immediately prior to, during and for a period of up to two weeks after the burn. These areas cannot be booked or used during this time and will be reopened, where applicable, when deemed to be safe for the public. The general public are advised to keep away from burn sites during this time in order to allow them to recover. During the prescribed burns, smoke may be visible from local streets and areas some distance from the sites.
The 2021 scheduled program of hazard reduction burns will concentrate on sites within White Rock - Spring Mountain Conservation Estate, Flinders - Goolman Conservation Estate and Mount Grandchester Conservation Estate.
Please note that not all sites will be completed at the same time as they require different wind directions for the burn pattern and to avoid as much smoke as possible for residents and main roads. Council will endeavour to keep the burns as close as possible to limit the time conservation estates are closed.
|1||WRSMCE White Rock Drive, Redbank Plains (Paperbark Flats entry)||33.4 ha||Completed - open|
|2||WRSMCE South of Applecross Circuit, Spring Mountain||18.55 ha||Completed - open|
|3||WRSMCE South east of Balm Avenue, Spring Mountain||100.24||Completed - open|
|4||WRSMCE East of Cape Nelson Way, Spring Mountain and south of Springfield - Greenbank Arterial||73.4 ha||Completed - open|
|5||WRSCME East of Wander Crescent, Spring Mountain and north of Springfield - Greenbank Arterial||9.08 ha||Completed - open|
|6||FGCE Hardings Paddock entry, Carmichaels Road, Purga (1)||12.34 ha||Completed - open|
|7||FGCE Hardings Paddock entry, Carmichaels Road, Purga (2)||17.33 ha||Completed - open|
|8||MGCE Heise Road, Woolshed (Please note: estate is not open to public access)||44.7ha||Pending|
Part of managing a hazard reduction burn includes collaborating with subject area experts. Council works closely with Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) and the Rural Fire Service (RFS) in relation to joint planning initiatives, wildfire response and ongoing support for public fire awareness education. Council also supports organisations such as the South East Queensland Fire and Biodiversity Consortium (SEQFBC), a regional working group partnering with a range of government and academic institutions to research and implement improved fire management practices. Council takes a six-step approach to prescribed burns:
Council proposes implementing hazard reduction burns primarily during the cooler months of April through to September. This is generally when ground and weather conditions are most suitable for cooler, controlled burns. This timeframe can be extended if favourable seasonal conditions allow. The right combination of weather (speed and direction, relative humidity and temperature) and onground conditions will determine target dates. Hazard reduction burns postponed due to unsuitable conditions will be rescheduled to a later date.
Living in or near bushland poses some level of risk from bushfire. The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), as the lead agency responsible for informing the public about bushfire safety, has detailed information on their website on bushfire preparedness. All attempts will be made to limit any smoke, dust, stray ember and other hazards as works are undertaken.
Unfortunately, ideal weather conditions for conducting these hazard reduction burns can also mean that smoke is not always dispersed well. With this in mind, there are a number of steps you can take to prepare yourself and your property to reduce impacts:
Residents adjoining prescribe burn sites should also:
As a private landowner, residents are responsible for maintaining their own property safety and preparedness for fire. The level of fire management required will vary greatly depending on size and location of the property and types of vegetation present.
The direct effects of fire on wildlife are closely related to mobility. Birds and other flying animals can escape fire relatively easily, while some species avoid fires by leaving the area or by taking shelter under rocks, in waterways or hollow logs. The low intensity and inherent patchiness of prescribed burns provides wildlife with opportunities to escape into unburned areas or take shelter.
The effects of fire on native fauna are not necessarily negative. Fire can impact animals indirectly through effects on vegetation and other habitat features. Nesting hollows can be created by fire. Reshooting vegetation provides ‘green pick’ for herbivores such as kangaroos, wallabies and insects. Increased levels of flowering and seeding follow fire as well as denser and more diverse vegetation as rejuvenated species compete for light and released nutrients. In locations not burned for long periods, aging vegetation may lose its productivity and some species may move elsewhere while plants which depend on fire to set seed may perish.
Council minimises impacts on wildlife during a hazard reduction burn in various ways:
For information regarding council’s hazard reduction burn program or associated estate or reserve closures call (07) 3810 6666 or email email@example.com. For more information on council's conservation partnership program opportunities (including fire and property management planning) for bushland property owners email firstname.lastname@example.org
Images courtesy of South East Queensland Fire and Biodiversity Consortium (photographers include G.Leah and C. Welden)