May 31st 2007
Burning program begins on Magnetic Island
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) has begun a series of controlled burns in the Magnetic Island National Park and adjacent unallocated State land.
QPWS Ranger-in-charge Patrick Centurino said a number of planned burns would be conducted from May to July when weather conditions were suitable.
"Most of the areas targeted this year have not been burnt for many years and the fuel load has built up significantly," Mr Centurino said.
"It's very important burns are undertaken to reduce potential wildfires which threaten flora and fauna as well as life and property.
"The iron bark and acacia plant communities on the island require a regular fire regime to be maintained. Burning these areas will help to regenerate these habitats."
Mr Centurino said QPWS would be conducting the burns over several days to ensure that animals will have plenty of opportunity to escape the fire.
"Over the last few months, rangers have also been improving and upgrading fire access tracks and will continue that work.
"Magnetic Island residents will be advised when specific burns are to be undertaken and rangers will endeavour to speak to residents whose property borders bushland."
QPWS manages approximatley12 million hectares of public land including national parks, State forests, and other conservation areas throughout the State.
Fire within these areas is managed to maintain natural diversity across ecosystems and landscapes by providing appropriate variations in fire regimes.
QPWS works with the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, other fire agencies, local government, adjoining landholders, local communities and Traditional Owners to ensure coordinated planned burns and responses to wildfires.
For more information on the burns planned for Magnetic Island National Park, call 4778 5378.
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Burning program begins on Magnetic Island
I am a strong supporter of the QPWS fire management strategy and am pleased to see that the program is still active and that the usual transparency and advanced notification is being observed. One teensy nagging quibble has arisen since I noticed "Florence Bay" is in the program for 2007. I used inverted commas to signal that I'm well aware that Florence Bay is a big area with many nooks and crannies and unlikely to be burned from wall to wall. Still, it's in the program. Unfortunately I can't lay my hands on the C1992 management plan for the newly declared Florence Bay section of the Magnetic Island National Park but I'm reasonably sure that one specific portion of Florence Bay - the littoral scrub - was intended to never have fire introduced into it. Hence the ban on camping and the lighting of fires in the bay - except in properly constituted BBQs. So I would ask the planners to consult the Management Plan (which they must surely have) just to be sure that the controlled burn is somewhere other than the littoral scrub or that a suitably developed rationale is in place.
Having now located the 1992 Management Plan I can confirm that the "littoral scrub" (and the "coastal sheoak woodland" along the top of the foredune) was specifically identified in the fire management section of the Plan. As the successional development of this area could be inhibited by any further fire incursion the Plan specified that - "TO THE GREATEST EXTENT PRACTICABLE, FIRES WILL BE EXCLUDED FROM THE AREAS OF LITTORAL SCRUB AND COASTAL SHEOAK WOODLAND."
To clarify the situation at Florence Bay, it is correct that the Florence Bay Management Plan 1992 states that high priority will be given to the protection of the Littoral Scrub and Coastal Sheoak woodland and we intend to comply with this.
QPWS does plan however to conduct three small, well spaced-out, controlled fires amongst the coastal sheoak woodland totalling less than 4 % of the area.
The objectives and rationale for these burns are supported by the Florence Bay Management Plan as they are intended to benefit to the long term sustainability of the Sand Dune plant community.
The Coastal Sheoak woodland was created by the Scouts who planted the trees around 1947 to provide shade and combat erosion.
These trees are nearing the end of their expected life span, about 60 years old, and very little recruitment of new trees has occurred on the thick matting of needles beneath.
Paradoxically, whilst even a slow burning fire kills sheoaks, the same fire has been known to promote germination of their seeds.
The burns are intended to start a process whereby progressively, as old trees die, they will be replaced by new sheoaks or other dune species already present in Florence Bay.
The burns are strategically placed to reduce the artificial tunnel-like effect created by the rectilinear planting pattern therefore increasing opportunity for solitude and sense of isolation for visitors.
The effects of fire on the sheoaks and other native coastal plants and weeds will be closely monitored.
Thank you for your comments.
Those with (fairly) long memories of Florence Bay will recall that the recently-departed ex-Deputy Premier, Tom Burns, entered the bay in a tinnie in 1992 to "open" the newly declared section of the Island National Park. A campaign had raged for at least ten years to protect the bay (and its 36 acre Scout lease) from a concerted development strategy emanating from the National Party and some of its well placed cronies. The then-Minister for National Parks (in the Goss government), Pat Comben, was unable to meet that particular deadline, instead holding a more formal function in Town at a later date. Interestingly, Pat Comben has lately donned a frock and cross with the Anglicans and made a cameo appearance at Tom Burns' State Funeral earlier in the week.