Fighting fire with fire

We all feel the impact of bushfires. Even if we don’t know anyone involved or have never visited the area.

The television footage of blackened land, homes destroyed and lives interrupted is confronting. It may be a natural part of an Australian summer, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch.

Steps can be taken to try to minimise both the risk and impact of bushfires, however, which is why planned or prescribed burning has become a common and accepted practice in South Australia.

The theory is simple. If you reduce fuel loads – the amount of material available to burn – you can reduce the speed and intensity of a bushfire. However, there is quite a lot of science to working out where, when and how to burn, without going overboard.

Prescribed burns can take place on any public land, including in national parks, and happen regularly in autumn and spring each year.

What’s not widely known is that we also burn to achieve ecological outcomes – protecting the habitat of animals such as the Southern Brown Bandicoot and helping the regeneration of plants.

Many plant species grow quickly from seed after a fire, while others (such as eucalyptus gum trees) sprout from the bark or the tree roots.

The 2015 autumn prescribed burning program is about to begin and will include 35 separate prescribed burns covering a total area of 7,014 hectares.

We’ll also be helping SA Water and Forestry SA with their burning programs which will include eight prescribed burns covering about 5,324 hectares.

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