burning

Savanna Burning: Understanding and using fire in northern Australia

A practical guide and information resource for managing fire in Australia's tropical savannas. More than 40 contributors.
Hard copies have been sold out. You can download pdfs for all chapters at right.

Every year thousands of square kilometres of grasslands in northern Australia go up in flames and smoke. Is it wanton destruction or part of the natural ecosystem of tropical savannas?

Savanna Burning: Understanding and Using Fire in Northern Australia , is a readable and well-illustrated book—in full colour—that tries to answer that question by providing the latest information on fire to managers of pastoral, Aboriginal and conservation lands, ecologists and the general public.

It explores the benefits and damage caused by fire; how land managers can use fire more effectively to maintain natural resources, and the future pressures arising from global warming and carbon trading. It also asks how current fire patterns change ecosystems developed under traditional Aboriginal burning. To help you see which parts of the book might be most useful the chapters are outlined below.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Here we describe fire management issues that need to be addressed in northern Australia and introduce the people needed to help solve these issues.

Chapter 2: Savanna landscapes
Savanna Landscapes describes the physical environment of the tropical savannas and shows how the different landscapes within the savannas have been shaped by climate, geology and soils. Despite this variation, all savanna landscapes share similar fire issues. Present-day land use and fire patterns are in turn shaped by the landscapes and climate of the north.

Chapter 3: Savanna fire regimes
This chapter describes different types of fire in the tropical savannas and introduces the concept of fire ‘regimes’. It describes the characteristics of these fire regimes and how they are affected by weather and vegetation—or ‘fuel’. This chapter shows how different fire regimes are used by different land users for various tasks in the landscape. It briefly describes current problems with present fire regimes and how they affect conservation, production and culture.

Chapter 4: Effects of fire in the landscape
This chapter details the effects of current fire regimes on the landscape—how current fire patterns are impacting on activities and values ranging from pastoralism to traditional practices to biodiversity. These include how fire patterns affect the ratio of trees to shrubs; of annual to perennial grasses; fire-sensitive plant species; and their impact on various native animals and air and water quality.

Chapter 5: Using fire in savanna management
This shows how better fire management can overcome many of the problems described in Chapter 4. Fire-management techniques are described for Aboriginal and pastoral land and for managing biodiversity. It is explained, for example, which burning regimes can be used to enhance pasture vigour; control weeds; provide habitat for native animals and protect against wildfires.

Chapter 6: Burning operations
Once you know what fire regimes are needed, ‘Operations’ describes how to put that knowledge into practice. It describes when and where to light fires for particular tasks; what ignition techniques can be used and how to plan for burning. The construction of firebreaks is detailed. The legislation that governs the lighting of fire in WA, NT and Qld is also referenced.

Chapter 7: Monitoring fire regimes
How do you know that fire management is working? You need to be able to monitor the effects of fire on the landscape and then, if necessary, use these results to change existing fire management. Monitoring techniques involving plots, aerial photography and satellite remote sensing are described. The complex language and high technology of satellite monitoring is explained.

Chapter 8: Global trends and fire management
Finally, we look to the future. This chapter examines how fire management will be affected by global and local trends including greenhouse issues and carbon trading, globalisation of markets, new laws covering biodiversity and air quality, and the impact of Native Title legislation.

Documents

Savanna Burning Chapter 4: Effects of fire in the landscape
Chapter 4 (pages 29-49:Effects of fire in the landscape) of the book Savanna Burning: Understanding and using fire in northern Australia published by the Tropical Savannas CRC in 2001. [pdf 14.5 Mb]


Savanna Burning Chapter 5: Using fire to manage savanna
Chapter 5 (pages 50-80:Using fire to manage savanna) of the book Savanna Burning: Understanding and using fire in northern Australia published by the Tropical Savannas CRC in 2001. [pdf 11.8 Mb]


Savanna Burning Chapter 6: Burning operations
Chapter 6 (pages 81-101: Burning operations) of the book Savanna Burning: Understanding and using fire in northern Australia published by the Tropical Savannas CRC in 2001. [pdf 7.7 Mb]


Savanna Burning Chapters 1-3: Introduction, Savanna landscapes, Savanna fire regimes
Chapters 1-3 (pages 1-28: Introduction, Savanna landscapes, Savanna fire regimes) of the book Savanna Burning: Understanding and using fire in northern Australia published by the Tropical Savannas CRC in 2001. [pdf 11.3 Mb]


Savanna Burning Chapters 7-8: Monitoring fire regimes, Global trends, Glossary and Index
Chapters 7-8 (pages 102-136: Monitoring fire regimes, Global trends and fire management, Glossary, Index) of the book Savanna Burning: Understanding and using fire in northern Australia published by the Tropical Savannas CRC in 2001. [pdf 11.4 Mb]


Savanna Burning Introduction
The Introduction (pages i-viii)to the book Savanna Burning: Understanding and using fire in northern Australia published by the Tropical Savannas CRC in 2001. [pdf 1.9 Mb]