Partnership forged on back of biodiversity burns

Biodiversity burn at Byne Park early in 2017.

Biodiversity burn at Byne Park early in 2017.

An Everlasting Partnership with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions -Kings Park Science - has resulted in the expansion of their Prescribed Burning and Weed Management Research to include Byne Park in the City of Greater Geraldton as its most northern research site.

The project, which involves other sites across the southwest, researches how changes in fire frequency and season, invasive species and climate interact with each other and affect Banksia woodlands regeneration with Geraldton now the most northerly site.

Banksia woodlands are an important and iconic part of the west Australian landscape and fire is essential for healthy regeneration of the plants.  With proper management, fire may also help manage bushland weeds, without that management fire can promote weeds. Understanding how and when to use fire is essential to maintaining healthy Banksia ecosystems.

Project Research Scientist, Dr Katinka Ruthrof, said the research involves trialling four different methodologies on small plots within the 80h size woodland located near Bootenal.

“The plots will be treated with a combination of fire/no fire, followed by weed control/no weed control,” she said.

“After the prescribed burns take place in autumn 2019, the sites will be revisited to assess the degree of burning, and fuel consumed, and to directly seed into areas around the plots.  In spring 2019, the plots will be resurveyed to identify recruitment of seedlings and the impact of burning and weed control on recruitment success.

“We have already been seeing some good results elsewhere in the State and it’s important to see if these can be achieved in the Mid West as well.”

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said the outcomes of the research will assist the City in better managing its bushland.

“The results of the trails will give us a better understanding of how to predict fire behaviour in terms of regenerating our bushland which will enable us to determine the most cost effective and efficient ways of maintaining healthy and diverse bushland for the future,” he said.

“One of the long term outcomes would be to scale up the successful methodology and replicate it on other sites across the City region.”

For more information on the project, please contact Environmental Planning Officer Erin O’Connor on (08) 9956 6600.