Kakadu National Park Fire Management Plan 2007
About the Plan
The Arnhemland Plateau is a geologic feature unique in the world. Its 34,000 km2 contains the highest plant and animal endemism (species not found anywhere else) in the Northern Territory (Woinarski et al. 2006), and a collection of pre-historic and historic art sites that is the equal of any in the world (Jones and Negerevich 1985). One major plant community, Allosyncarpia forest, is found only on the plateau. The sandstone heath vegetation of the plateau is the most biodiverse plant community in the NT, and among the most biodiverse in tropical Australia. Its waterfalls and spectacular gorges provide unparalleled amenity value for park visitors. Moreover, it is of immense cultural and spiritual value to Bininj/Munnguy who traditionally traded, hunted, walked and/or lived throughout the escarpment.
Gradually, from 1974 to 1987, the westernmost section (15%) of the Arnhemland Plateau was incorporated into Kakadu National Park. Today the plateau is jointly managed between park staff and the Bininj/Munnguy residents of Kakadu. Fire management is a key component of the land management of the plateau. The goals of fire management are to:
- Use fire to break up continuous layers of fuel into smaller patches (create a fire mosaic).
- Maintain vegetation communities within acceptable fire regime thresholds.
- Reduce the incidence of late dry season fires, which are more damaging to vegetation than early dry season fires (Yates and Russell-Smith 2003; Russell-Smith et al. 1998).
- Coordinate between neighbouring groups to manage the plateau as an entire bioregion.
- Protect archaeological and art sites from damage or destruction from fire.
- Maintain the biodiversity of the plateau.
- Otherwise comply with the Kakadu Management Plan, the EPBC Act and Commonwealth Law regarding management of the plateau.
- Continually monitor fire management practices and update fire strategy with the best available information.
Two major fires that occurred in 2004 and 2006 burnt substantial areas of the plateau and necessitated a revisit of park management of the plateau. This plan is a result of that, and is intended as a tool to aid in management of the plateau. We recognise that fire is an inherently dynamic ecological process and that an overly prescriptive plan would be doomed to failure. Therefore we have incorporated significant flexibility with regard to the implementation of this plan.