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Wilson B.A.,Gnangara Sustainability Strategy | Kuehs J.,Gnangara Sustainability Strategy | Valentine L.E.,Gnangara Sustainability Strategy | Valentine L.E.,University of Western Australia | And 2 more authors.
Pacific Conservation Biology | Year: 2014

In Mediterranean ecosystems prescribed burning is commonly employed to reduce the risk or intensity of wildfires. As a consequence, a major challenge for conservation land managers is the development of fire regimes that reduce damaging wildfires and are optimal for biodiversity. The aim of this paper was to develop guidelines for ecological fire regimes using the Banksia woodland on the Gnangara Groundwater System in Western Australia as a case study. Development of the guidelines involved the determination of maximum and minimum fire intervals of key fire response species, analyses of fire history records and estimation of ideal age class distributions at the landscape level. Recommendations included a) adoption of a minimum fire interval of 8-16 years, b) implementation of a burning regime to redress the current skewed distribution (60%: 1-7 years since last fire), c) retention of long-unburnt habitats that are significant for species such as the critically endangered Calyptorhynchus latirostris (Carnaby's black-cockatoo), and Tarsipes rostratus (honey possum), and d) protection for wetlands that can serve as fire 'refugia' for associated species, such as Isoodon obesulus fusciventer (southern brown bandicoot or quenda). The guidelines developed provide a model for the development of ecological burning regimes in other similar ecosystems. The implementation of ecological guidelines normally involves incorporation into fire management planning by fire agencies and often entails complex solutions to conflicting aims. The guidelines are thus valuable for ecologists and land managers, especially in light of an expected significant increase in global fire activity as a consequence of predicted climate change.

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