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How does fire monitoring work?

Monitoring helps us assess how effective our strategies are and includes monitoring the ecological response to fire regimes, to help us improve our fire management decisions to conserve biodiversity.

The information we collect is on how native plants and animals respond to fire, and how they are affected by it. For example, some plants require extreme heat from a fire to open their seeds, while others struggle to adapt to changes in fire behaviour caused by climate change.

We also monitor fire behaviour in different vegetation types and weather conditions at prescribed burns, to improve our understanding of the best conditions to safely manage burns, which leads to better outcomes for firefighter safety, reduces bushfire risk, and conserves biodiversity.

Every prescribed burn gives us the opportunity to learn more about fire ecology and fire behaviour, and monitoring builds on the knowledge learned from previous burns which helps us adapt our fire management program to any changing conditions.

This work is an integral part of our planningand in the way we conduct prescribed burns. Any habitats or species of concern from fire are identified in fire management plans, and strategies are built in to conserve them.

We do this by carrying out an environmental assessment before a prescribed burn, to work out which species and communities are present at a proposed burn site. This list is reviewed by a conservation ecologist to determine if monitoring is required before or after the burn to understand the outcomes for threatened species, manage weeds or feral species, or to learn more about the role fire plays in certain ecosystems.

Monitoring after a bushfire

Monitoring is also important to help us work out how plants and animals recover after bushfires. Bushfires are typically larger and more intense than prescribed burns so monitoring helps us understand where risk reduction and conservation activities should be located in the landscape to lessen the impacts of bushfires in the future. This is important when developing fire management plans, as this ecological information helps us measure changes in vegetation composition and diversity before and after bushfires. The South Australian Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Recovery Framework is used to identify actions to support the recovery of plants, animals and the natural environment affected by large bushfires.

How fire monitoring improves plant management – some examples

Fire and weeds - Billardiera heterophylla

Fire response to native callitris

Fire and weeds - Erica arborea