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Topics > Fire management

What are prescribed burns?

Prescribed burning is the planned use of fire to a particular area in the landscape.

Prescribed, controlled and planned burns are the same thing. In South Australia, they are referred to as prescribed burns because they follow a ‘prescription’ with a number of conditions that need to be met: fuel load; fuel moisture; temperature; relative humidity; and wind direction and speed. Along with the site's slope, these determine the intensity and speed at which a site will burn.

Take a look at this map to find any upcoming prescribed burns near you.

The story of prescribed burning

Why are prescribed fires good?

Prescribed fires on public or private land are just one tool used as part of the NPWS fire management program to reduce fine fuels across the landscape, manage native vegetation and protect biodiversity in South Australia's parks and reserves.

Reducing fuel hazards is important as it can reduce the speed and intensity of bushfires which makes them easier to control, provides a safer environment for firefighters, and ultimately saves lives and property.

Along with reducing bushfire risk, prescribed burning is also used for ecological reasons such as:

  • protecting and maintaining animal habitats (some native animal species prefer regenerating vegetation after fire; others like long unburnt habitat - prescribed burns manage the landscape so there’s a mix of habitat for all species)
  • regenerating plant species and communities that rely on fire (many native plants rely on fire for regeneration, as a result they grow quickly after fire from germinating seed or re-sprouting buds under their bark or roots)
  • improving biodiversity within parks and reserves.

In the Mount Lofty Ranges the prescribed burning program is coordinated by the Mount Lofty Ranges Fire Cooperative, which includes representative from CFS, SA Water, DEW and ForestrySA.

Find out more about the last 6 years of our Prescribed Burn Program figures, challenges and regional information.

Smoke management

Smoke exposure can affect people and some primary production. Find out more about smoke management.


Please contact CFS for current bushfire information or call the hotline on 1800 362 361.

To report an emergency dial 000.