Short Virtual Presentation & Digital Poster 10th Australian Stream Management Conference 2021

Reviewing fire as a vegetation management technique in highly modified riparian ecosystems (#40)

Elisha Duxbury 1 , Kirstie Fryirs 1
  1. Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW, Australia

Rivers in NSW have undergone significant modification since European arrival due to poor land management practices, particularly land clearing for agriculture. After over 200 years of degradation, rivers are finally showing signs of recovery, with the most pronounced changes in coastal valleys. The river recovery seen in NSW has been facilitated mainly by a significant increase in woody vegetation cover. Though the vegetation driving river recovery has geomorphic benefits, it is comprised mostly by exotic woody weeds and herbs, with low biodiversity value. Cost-effective and large-scale vegetation management options are needed to retain river recovery provided by increased vegetation cover, and to improve biodiversity.

Ecological and Cultural burning present novel vegetation management techniques to enhance river recovery and gain positive biodiversity outcomes. However, it is yet to be understood the ideal burn regime for riparian ecosystems, with regards to site characteristics such as landscape history, vegetation community and soil-type. Preliminary trials in the lower Hunter region in NSW have showed promising results from aerial spraying coupled with medium intensity burning to eliminate a target weed. This paper will investigate the potential of fire as a management tool for improving the quality of riparian vegetation in highly modified river systems.

  1. Fryirs, K. A., et al. (2018). "Tracking geomorphic recovery in process-based river management." Land degradation and development. 29(9): 3221-3244.
  2. Pettit, N. E. and R. J. Naiman (2007). "Fire in the Riparian Zone: Characteristics and Ecological Consequences." Ecosystems. 10(5): 673-687.
  3. Mabbott, R. and K. A. Fryirs (2018). Trialling the use of controlled burning for exotic vegetation management in novel riparian ecosystems. 9th Australian Stream Managemet Conference. Hobart, Tasmania: 111 - 118.
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