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When savannas burn, more than 90% of grassy fuels is given off as smoke. This smoke consists of water vapour, a range of other gases and very fine particulates. Most of the gases are various oxidised forms of nitrogen or carbon, with carbon dioxide dominating. However, a similar amount of carbon dioxide will be absorbed into the next season’s growth of vegetation and it is assumed that the net production is zero.

How do fire regimes affect vertebrates?
Just as the structure and composition of plant communities reflect their fire history, there will be more habitat diversity in areas where there is greater variety in the frequency and intensity of fires.
The size of the different habitat patches (and thus burnt areas) is important. Many animals require a variety of habitats, for example for breeding and for foraging, and large uniform areas do not suit them.
Patchy burning creates vegetation that at any one place changes from newly burnt to long unburnt.

Season of burn
Wet season
(December - April) 

Who uses these fires?
There are no records of anyone using wet season fires on Cape York Peninsula.

When to light up?
Wet season fires are not recommended, as loss of grass cover before the seed bank has been replenished will lead to soil scalding.
If you insist on burning, make sure you have a permit.

How long will it burn?
Wet season fires will burn for a few hours to a few days.

How far will it go?

Season of burn
Wet season
(December - April) 

Who uses these fires?
There are no records of anyone using wet season fires on Cape York Peninsula.

When to light up?
Wet season fires are not recommended, as loss of grass cover before the seed bank has been replenished will lead to soil scalding.
If you insist on burning, make sure you have a permit.

How long will it burn?
Wet season fires will burn for a few hours to a few days.

How far will it go?

Season of burn
Storm time
(November-January)

Season of burn
Mid-dry season
(August - September) 

Who uses these fires?
Mid-dry season fires were part of traditional management by Aboriginal people, and were important in producing a mosaic of fire ages. They can be an important part of managing fire risk, when they are used to connect other barriers to fire. Otherwise, they have limited ecological value, having an undesirable effect of promoting vegetation thickening on Cape York Peninsula.

Season of burn
Late dry season
(October to December)   

Season of burn

Early dry season

(May-July)

Who uses these fires?

Early dry season fires are part of traditional management by Aboriginal people, and an important part of managing cattle and fire risk, and protecting fire-sensitive habitat. They also help to break up the fuel layer and prevent later fires from being too extensive. Otherwise, they have limited direct ecological value, concentrating wildlife, rather than increasing its abundance, and have an undesirable effect of promoting vegetation thickening on Cape York Peninsula.

When to light up?

People in the savanna country have to live with this reality: that managing the country to a large extent means managing fire. Communication, collaboration and education are keys to improving fire management across the north.