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Wrap-up of the Nature Conservation Council's Bushfire Conference and Field Day

Friday, 30th June 2017

Wrap-up of the Nature Conservation Council's Bushfire Conference and Field Day

The Nature Conservation Council hosted its 11th Biennial Bushfire Conference in Sydney on May 30 to June 1.  Over 265 people attended this year’s conference, which explored the interactions between fire, fauna and weeds across a range of ecosystems from backyards to bush. A variety of speakers including fire ecologists, researchers and experts from fire and government agencies presented their knowledge over two days.  Key note speakers included Prof. Ross Bradstock (University of Wollongong), Ass. Prof Alan York (University of Melbourne), and Prof. Chris Dickman (University of Sydney), all of whome are leading and widely cited researchers in the field of fire ecology.

The conference provided an opportunity for everyone involved with bushfire management to connect, and lively debates were held during the panel discussion, poster session and conference dinner. Although many people had attended previous conferences, this year’s focus on weeds and fauna attracted new delegates and organisations, with Landcare groups, bush regenerators and wildlife managers widely represented. The presentations on the first day examined how weeds could be managed effectively using fire. Talks on the second day looked at how planned or unplanned burns affect endangered or invasive animal species. Other key topics included Aboriginal burning initiatives and community acceptance of fire.

Hotspots fire ecologists Mark Graham and Kevin Taylor presented the Hotspots review of fire and weeds in the native vegetation of NSW, which reviews the scientific and grey literature regarding ecological dynamics of weeds and how these impact biodiversity, influence fire regimes and have implications for weed control and fuel hazard reduction. The review will be available in early July via the Hotspots website (www.hotspotsfireproject.org.au) and incorporated as a core component of the Hotspots workshops. Hotspots also presented two posters at the conference: one on the fire and weeds review and landholder booklet; the second on the workshop series and basic fire-fighter training held with the Mogo and Batemans Bay Local Aboriginal Land Councils.

In addition to the two-day conference, NCC organised a field day to North Head to show restoration and regeneration in action.  Local experts from North Head Sanctuary Foundation, Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, NPWS, Australian Wildlife Conservancy and RFS shared their passion and understanding of the site with over 60 participants.  Discussion topics covered the influence of fire for management of the Ecological Endangered Community Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub, current fauna programs with long-nosed bandicoots, rats and pygmy possums and weed management interactions with burning. With sunny weather and a stunning lunch location overlooking Sydney Harbour, this day provided a beautiful ending to a fruitful conference.

Link to conference page: conference proceedings will be available mid-July: http://www.nature.org.au/healthy-ecosystems/bushfire-program/conferences/2017-ncc-bushfire-conference/

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