Wiluna women managing country with ‘cool’ burns

[June 2015] 

A team of Wiluna women are using fire to manage important habitats and reduce the impact of large hot summer fires at Ululla, about 70 kilometres south west of Wiluna in Western Australia’s Murchison region. 

The work, funded through Rangelands NRM, began earlier this year with the team conducting initial surveying and mapping of areas to be managed for fire. 

Working with pastoral manager, Don Miller, they commenced preliminary patch-burning at three sites on Ululla Station in April this year. 

Hamish Morgan, Program Development Coordinator at Central Desert Land and Community, said the aim of fire management in the region is to limit the spread of large-scale wildfires over the summer months by producing a network of small ‘cool’ burns that reduce grassy fuels and increase vegetation diversity. 

"This creates a ‘patchy’ landscape made up of different fuel or vegetation ages. The ‘patchiness’ is crucial to reducing the impact of large hot summer fires and increasing food and habitat resources," he said.

Mr Morgan said the initial planning and implementation of regional fire management was an active and practical way to get people working together on areas of common interest – looking after country, sharing knowledge and supporting good land management. 

The fire management work is part of an ongoing Indigenous land management project with several stakeholders, including Indigenous rangers, Tarlka Matuwa Piarku Aboriginal Corporation (RNTBC), pastoralists, industry and the Department of Parks and Wildlife. 

Plans are also underway to conduct presence and absence surveys for Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) across two pastoral leases in the region. 

This survey work will lead to the development of an integrated management plan to support the survival of the Malleefowl on the two leases. 

The presence of Malleefowl on land within its range is a marker of healthy habitat and the species is listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999.

Many well established ecological threats impact on the Malleefowl, including cat and fox predation, loss of habitat, and inappropriate fire regimes. 

The project is expected to extend to the protection of other threaten species across the Wiluna landscape and the development of a Healthy Country Plan for Ululla. 

Information provided by Hamish Morgan, Program Development Coordinator at Central Desert Land and Community.

Image:

Wiluna women managing country with 'cool' burns. Photo by Hamish Morgan.