What the results tell us for Queanbeyan
Available data indicate that at least 40 hectares of land were burnt by wildfire in the Queanbeyan City Council Area during the current reporting period, or about 0.2% of the council area. The cause of these wildfires is not known. No vegetation communities in the council area are fire sensitive.
The NSW Rural Fire Service considers there should no prescribed fire in populations of two threatened animal species that occurs in the council area. High fire frequency is considered a threat to two endangered or vulnerable animal species known to occur there, and inappropriate fire frequencies may put threatened plant species at risk. Both the endangered ecological communities with occurrences in the council area are also at risk from inappropriate fire regimes.
A bush fire risk management plan was prepared for the council area during the current reporting period to guide fire management strategies and measures there.
Occurrence of fires
Data provided by the NSW Rural Fire Service indicates that wildfire burnt at least 40 hectares of land in the Queanbeyan Council Area in the 2001–02 fire season. The cause of the wildfires was not known.
Impacts of fires on native species and communities
The impact of fires on native plant and animal species and ecological communities varies with factors such as fire type, intensity and frequency, season of occurrence, and scale and patchiness of the burn.
The bushfire characteristics of major vegetation types in the council area are outlined in the Yarrowlumla / Queanbeyan Bush Fire Management Plan (Y/QBFMC 2002, Section 2.2.3).
Impacts on fire sensitive species and communities
No fire sensitive vegetation communities are known to occur in Queanbeyan Council Area.
Potential impacts on threatened species and communities
The NSW Rural Fire Service (2003) recommends that there be no prescribed fire in populations of two threatened species recorded in Queanbeyan Council Area—the endangered/critically endangered Golden Sun Moth (Synemon plana) and the vulnerable Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus).
Of the other endangered and vulnerable species occurring in the council area, high frequency fire is considered to be a threatening process for two endangered or vulnerable species—the Spotted-tailed Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) and the Glossy Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami) (NSW Scientific Committee 2004b). However threatened plant species present in the area may also be at risk if subject to fires at an inappropriate frequency.
Inappropriate fire regimes are also considered a threat (DEC 2004; Environment ACT 2005) to both of the endangered ecological communities with occurrences in the council area, i.e. 'White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum woodland' and 'Natural temperate grasslands of the Southern Tablelands of NSW and the ACT' (see Ecological communities (Table 2)). The extent to which these communities may have been affected by fire during the reporting period is not known.
Potential impacts on other species and communities
Important remnants of native vegetation may occur in travelling stock reserves, cemeteries and crown reserves. No information was located on the extent to which such communities occur in the council area and may have been threatened and/or affected by fire.
Laws and policies
The Rural Fires Act 1997 is the main state government law relating to fire management in NSW, although the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 also contain clauses relating to fire and fire management. For more information on these laws, see government laws and policies.
The NSW Rural Fire Service has developed several policy documents and guidelines relating to fire management, including the Bush Fire Environmental Assessment Code (RFS 2003) and Planning for Bushfire Protection (RFS and Planning NSW 2001). The former lists threatened species, threatened populations and endangered ecological communities to be addressed when undertaking hazard reduction burns, and specifies conditions relating to the use of fire and mechanical forms of hazard reduction for each species, population or community. The planning document outlines planning considerations to be taken into account for developments in bushfire prone areas.
Yarrowlumla/Queanbeyan Bushfire Management Committee
The Yarrowlumla/Queanbeyan Bush Fire Management Committee developed a Bushfire Risk Management Plan during the current reporting period (Y/QBFMC 2002). This document maps bushfire risk across the previous Yarrowlumla and Queanbeyan Council Areas (now mostly part of Queanbeyan Council Area) and outlines strategies that land managers will undertake to manage identified bushfire risks. The plan addresses protection of natural and cultural values and protection of life and property, and also provides information relating to threatened species, populations, communities and critical habitat. It refers to approved Recovery Plans and the specific fire management requirements for each species or community.
Council and other land management agencies are required to develop their own programs for implementing the strategies outlined in the bushfire risk management plan. Queanbeyan Council has sole responsibility to communicate the plan's objectives and strategies to private land managers and to ensure the strategy is implemented in the council area.
Travelling Stock Reserve (TSR) management plans may incorporate fire management, and detail all works for fire management to be undertaken on reserves. The Braidwood Rural Lands Protection Board, whose administrative area covers Queanbeyan City Council Area, has a TSR Management Plan in place which includes fire management. The Board is represented on the local Bushfire Management Committees and has protocols in place to organise hazard reduction activities with the Rural Fire Service in consultation with neighbouring property owners, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Council. Actions within the Braidwood Travelling Stock Reserve Management Plan relating to fire include (Braidwood RLPB 2002):
- monitor fuel levels on reserves
- develop strategies for controlled burns with the local Rural Fire Service
- where possible use grazing to minimise bushfire fuel levels
- reduce threat of fire to reserves and adjoining lands.
About the data
See: Fire management in threatened ecological communities and threatened species for details of all components of the Bush Fire Environmental Assessment Code (RFS 2003).
The NSW Rural Fire Service Head Office provided summary tabular data for fires within the council area.
Braidwood RLPB—see Braidwood Rural Lands Protection Board
Braidwood Rural Lands Protection Board (2002) Braidwood Rural Lands Protection Board TSR Management Plan 2002–2007, Braidwood Rural Lands Protection Board, viewed 29 May 2006, http://www.rlpb.org.au/southern_tablelands/braidwood/local/ management_plans/man_plan_tsr_2_7.pdf.
DEC—see Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW)
DEH—see Department of Environment and Heritage (Commonwealth)
Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) (2004) NSW Scientific Committee - Final Determination, White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum woodland—endangered ecological community listing, NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, viewed 24 June 2005, http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/Box-gum+woodland+endangered +ecological+community+listing.
Environment ACT (2005) National Recovery Plan for Natural Temperate Grasslands of the Southern Tablelands (NSW and ACT), and endangered ecological community, Environment ACT, Canberra, viewed 3 March 2005, http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/ recovery/temperate-grasslands/pubs/temperate-grasslands.pdf.
NSW Rural Fire Service (2003) Bush Fire Environmental Assessment Code for Asset Protection and Strategic Fire Advantage Zones, NSW Rural Fire Service.
NSW Rural Fire Service and Planning NSW (2001) Planning for Bushfire Protection: a guide for Councils, planners, fire authorities, developers and home owners, Planning NSW, viewed 26 August 2005, http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/file_system/attachments/State/Attachment_20050302_FC6A22B8.pdf.
NSW Scientific Committee (2004b) Ecological consequences of high frequency fires - key threatening process declaration, final determination, accessed 2 March 2006, http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/Ecological +consequences+of+high+frequency+fires+key+thre.
RFS—see NSW Rural Fire Service
Y/QBFMC—see Yarrowlumla/Queanbeyan Bush Fire Management Committee
Yarrowlumla/Queanbeyan Bush Fire Management Committee (2002) Bush Fire Risk Management Plan, Yarrowlumla Shire Council and Queanbeyan City Council.