Banksia woodlands are renowned for their flammability and prescribed fire is increasingly employed to reduce the risk of wildfire and to protect life and property, particularly where these woodlands occur on the urban interface. Prescribed fire is also employed as a tool for protecting biodiversity assets but can have adverse impacts on native plant communities. We investigated changes in species richness and cover in native and introduced flora following autumn prescribed fire in a 700-hectare Banksia/Tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala) woodland that had not burnt for more than 30 years. Effectiveness of management techniques at reducing weed cover and the impacts of grazing by Western Grey Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus) postfire were also investigated. Thirty plots were established across a designated burn boundary immediately before a prescribed fire in May 2011, and species richness and cover were measured 3 years after the fire, in spring of 2013. Fencing treatments were established immediately following the fire, and weed management treatments were applied annually in winter over the subsequent 3 years. Our results indicate that autumn prescribed fire can facilitate increases in weed cover, but management techniques can limit the establishment of targeted weeds postfire. Postfire grazing was found to have significant adverse impacts on native species cover and vegetation structure, but it also limited establishment of some serious weeds including Pigface (Carpobrotus edulis). Manipulating herbivores in time and space following prescribed fire could be an important and cost-effective way of maintaining biodiversity values.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Ecological Management and Restoration|
|Publication status||Published - May 2016|