Proceedings of the 1994 symposium on biodiversity and fire in North Australia -
Biodiversity series, Paper no. 3
Deborah Bird Rose (editor)
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories and the North Australia Research Unit, The Australian National University, 1995
The Country in Flames Symposium was organised by the North Australia Research Unit of The Australian National University, and was funded under the Biodiversity program by the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, to provide updates on urgent cultural, scientific and legal issues surrounding biodiversity and fire in North Australia. These proceedings are the full versions of the papers presented at the symposium in Darwin on 27 August 1994.
The poem 'Firestick Farming' by Mark O'Connor is taken from his collection, Firestick Farming: Selected Poems 1972-90, and is reproduced courtesy of Hale & Iremonger Pty Ltd and Mark O'Connor.
The Biodiversity Series
This is the third paper in the Biodiversity Series, published by the Biodiversity Unit of the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories. The series intends, for the first time, to collate and make available information relating to all aspects of the conservation of Australia's biodiversity why it is globally significant, the conservation status of its components, threatening processes, current levels of knowledge, and the adequacy of conservation measures. In addition the series will make available results from selected projects undertaken with the support of the Biodiversity Unit.
The Country in Flames symposium, which was organised by Dr Deborah Bird Rose of The Australian National University's North Australia Research Unit, is one of these projects. The Biodiversity Unit was pleased to support this symposium as it offered an important opportunity to address critical issues relating to fire and biodiversity in Northern Australia. The strong presence of Aboriginal people was invaluable in clearly indicating both the long history of fire as a management tool in the region, and the role of fire as a determinant of biodiversity. The legal perspectives on Aboriginal burning are also timely and important considerations for future management approaches. Clearly, there is a need to develop and maintain good channels of communication. These papers will do much to stimulate awareness of fire as a major tool for the maintenance of biodiversity in Northern Australia, and of some of the critical issues in its management.
In addition to providing support for this symposium, the Biodiversity Unit is funding a number of other projects on biodiversity and fire. These projects, which cover a range of issues, and were supported in order to help fill key gaps in our knowledge, are:
- a two day conference Biodiversity and fire the effects and effectiveness of fire management (in temperate Australia). This conference was held on 89 October 1994, and the proceedings are expected to be published in March 1995. It was organised by the Victorian National Parks Association, and funded jointly by the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories and the Victorian Department of Conservation and Natural Resources;
- research into the long-term effects of repeated prescribed burning on forest invertebrates, being undertaken jointly by NSW State Forests and Macquarie University;research into the impacts of fire on invertebrate biodiversity in savanna woodlands, being undertaken by Dr Penelope Greenslade (now CSIRO Division of Entomology);
- a review of the effects of fire on birds in Australian environments being undertaken by John Woinarski of the Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory;
- a synthesis of the effects of fire on plant biodiversity in Australia, being undertaken by Dr Malcolm Gill, of CSIRO Division of Plant Industry.