Fire is part of the seasonal cycle in Kakadu. At the moment we are in Gurrung, the hot dry time. Even though it is a little late in the hot season, burning still has to be done on floodplains to protect areas such as art sites, monsoon forests and other areas of significance.
Burning at the right time of year is important to manage country properly – sometimes areas are still too wet to burn in the early dry season, so park staff and traditional owners work together to ensure any fire lit later in the season can be well controlled.
Visitors had a chance to see this late season fire regime in action when rangers backburned areas of the floodplain in front of Ubirr. The main part of the Nadab floodplain is still too wet to burn completely, so drier parts on the edges of the floodplain are burned now to make firebreaks, which are very useful in protecting fragile habitats like the monsoon rainforest.
The backburn was done late in the afternoon when the wind had dissipated for the day and any afternoon sea breeze coming from the northwest would only cause the fire to come back on itself and eventually die down overnight. As usual the sunset at Ubirr was spectacular and visitors had the bonus of a fascinating demonstration of how fire management works in this unique landscape.
Brett, Seasonal ranger, Kakadu National Park
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