Fire is an important and sometimes controversial part of the ecology and long term management of the ridge. This page is intended to give a brief overview of the history, role and management of fire on the ridge.
The history of fire on the ridge has strongly followed the history of the ridge itself. the role of humans has been the most significant factor in the frequency, intensity and effect of fires on the ridge.
Fire has been present on the ridge for millions of years.
Artificial burning was introduced by Aborigines who regularly burned, low intensity burns. to better manage the land for their purposes
European settlers generally believed that fire was only bad as it not only destroyed food but risked destroying infrastructure such as fences, sheds and homes. Fire was therefore generally suppressed.
When the ridge was converted from a grazing property to a nature service in the 1980s, very few fires occurred on the ridge prior to January 2003.
Since January 2003 the ridge nowdays can be planned or unplanned. Planned fires are conducted by the rural fire service with the objective being to reduce the amount of fuel. This helps reduce the possibility and intensity of an uncontrolled fires on the ridge.
Since the 2003 fires, fires have been more actively managed.
Fires on the ridge our now actively managed by the ACT Parks and Conservation Service.
Prescribed burns have been a regular almost annual feature of the fire management on the ridge since 2003.
Prescribed burns typically target only a small area of the ridge at a time. Progressively overtime, the ridge is burnt. This pattern of burning mosaic burning.
The use of controlled of hazard reduction burns has many secondary benefits on the ridge.hazard reduction burn programme
Cattle Grazing is also used on the ridge by Parks and Conservation as tool to manage fuel loads. Cattle are temporarily brought in to grazed down an area to remove the feul load. The group does not directly participate in these activities.
A major secondary benefit of controlled burns is that these burns can significantly accelerate the regeneration of the bush.
A balanced fire management regime can have significantly assist in the regeneration of the bush. Too much and things don't do well. To little and things don't do well.
Most of the group areas have had one or more burns on them. This has significantly enhanced the ratural regeneration process.
Native generally respond better to regular burns than exotics. Burns help accelerate the regeneration of native plants and grasses in particular.
Prescribed burns also provide a great opportunity for the group. The group takes advantage of control burns as a good opportunity. Vegetation cover is reduced, weeds are more visible and easier to remove.
The pictures below show Cooleman Ridge before and after the bushfire on 18 January 2003, and the new growth brought on by the rains. Those in the second row were taken on 1st February, those in the third row in May 2003.
Top: November 2001 - walking
down the hill (dam to right).
2nd row: After the fire - a tree is down (see far right photo)
3rd row: Rains bring on the weeds, especially Paterson's Curse.
Top: November 2001 - a picturesque
2nd row: Ducks were seen on this dam in the days after the fire.
3rd row: Water quality is poor, but ducks still come to the dam.
Top: November 2001 - dam, with
road winding up hill.
2nd row: A tree felled by wind and fire lies in front of the dam.
3rd row: New weeds grew from seed scattered for any survivors to eat.
Top: June 2002 - snowing on
2nd row: Same tree; a smoky haze this time.
Top: October 2002 - storm clouds
2nd row: The same view after the fire.
Top: October 2002 - storms over
2nd row: A much drier, burnt landscape.
The pictures below show Cooleman Ridge in February 2003 after the fires, and the new green growth in June 2003. Photo copyright: R. Vallak
The pictures below show some of the regrowth on Cooleman Ridge since the January fires. Photo copyright: K. Pelling