Fire | Gulf Fire Project |

Fire research in the Gulf

The Gulf Fire project is being conducted under the umbrella of the Tropical Savannas CRC and is a collaborative effort between the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, CSIRO, Meat and Livestock Australia, the Northern Gulf Resource Management Group, Rural Fires and landholders. The project began in 2002, and is testing the use of fire to manage woody species in the Gulf Savanna. Two main species were targeted by the study: breadfruit ( Gardenia vilhelmii ) and gutta percha ( Excoecaria parvifolia ) as well as yellow-woods ( Terminalia spp.), eucalypts and acacias. Breadfruit is a small straggly tree that grows to about 7 m high and is found on red earths, granites and gravelly soils. Gutta percha is a straggly shrub growing to 6 m high and preferring heavier (clay) soils. The two species tend not to occur together.

Unlike some other Australian rangelands, including other regions of tropical savannas and woodlands, fire is quite broadly accepted by the pastoral community of the Gulf savannas as a useful management tool for woody plant control.

The project team has had no difficulty locating sites that landholders are prepared to burn as part of the program. This has made it relatively easy to develop a network of study sites through which the scientific and pastoral communities can together broaden their experience of fire in the Gulf savannas. The selected sites—five core sites and 10 satellite sites—are all located on working cattle properties, and are spread widely across the northern Gulf savannas from east of Mt Surprise to north of Normanton. Together they represent considerable diversity of soils, vegetation, climate, grazing and fire history and general land condition.

from: Kernot, J. 2005, 'Fire may provide relief to shrub increase', Savanna Links, Issue 31, January–June.

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