Wildfire causes major losses to ground cover, and is a key contributor to erosion of Cape York’s fragile soils, to sedimentation of water ways, and to poorer water quality on Cape York. It also results in reduced biodiversity and a reduction of suitable grazing country.
Most graziers on Cape York agree that fire is one of the biggest threats to livelihoods, and most have been planning and managing fire on their properties for many years. Wildfire however is still a major issue across the Cape, and the best fire management plans go out the door when wildfires roar in from neighbouring or distant properties.
Cape York NRM is establishing fire management clusters on Cape York, particularly in areas where wildfires are of major concern. The aim of the clusters is to improve regional coordination and collaboration for fire planning and management. This should help in the reduction of the number and frequency of wildfires on Cape York.
The clusters currently in the early stages of development include Upper Wenlock, Olkola, Laura/Kuku Thaypan and Northern Peninsula Area.
Given that successful fire management typically involves interaction between neighbouring properties, Cape York NRM is meeting with as many stakeholders as possible across the Cape on an ongoing basis.
Initial meetings have mostly been informal aimed at forging strong relationships. Experience shows that most Cape York people prefer to talk and develop relationships before considering and progressing.
Encouraging the use of traditional burning methodology is a priority for Cape York NRM. Over several years, relationships have been forged with traditional owners, land trusts and Indigenous rangers to support traditional practices, and to share this cultural knowledge to a broader audience.
Results and outcomes
So far the key outcomes have included:
- sharing information between groups and individuals
- organising training for groups to achieve Level One fire fighting
- discussions with conservation property managers to support the implementation of ground burns carried out by Traditional Owners
- grazing property managers are involved in clusters
The grazing and conservation properties that have already been engaged through this project include Artemis Station, Crocodile, Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve, Alice River Station, Olive Vale Station, Kings Plains, Alkoomie, South Endeavour through the South Endeavour Trust, and various Cape York National Parks. These property managers are keen to work with Cape York NRM and their neighbours to progress the clusters.
There is a lot of good will from land managers to see the clusters succeed. It is early days, but already confidence is high amongst graziers, conservation, and Indigenous land managers that regional coordination through clusters is the way forward to reduce wildfire impacts on Cape York.
Partnerships and investment
This project is supported by the Queensland Government Department of Natural Resources and Mines through the Queensland Regional Natural Resource Management Investment Program, The Nature Conservancy and Cape York NRM, in partnership with Cape York’s land managers.