Some notes on the connection between alpine grazing and fire regimes from the CSIRO – does’ grazing reduce blazing’?
Cattle grazing and alpine ecology
Cattle prefer to graze the open grassy communities, where there are more palatable plants, and they tend to avoid the closed heath communities. Thus, any fuel reduction effect as a result of cattle grazing is occurring in the least flammable part of the landscape, and not where the propagating fuels (dense shrubs) are located.
Long-term data shows that cattle have very little or no impact on shrub cover (and hence fuel loads) in the heaths. The heaths are therefore likely to burn more severely than the grasslands, and fire severity within heaths – all other things being equal – will be similar whether they are grazed or not.
Does grazing reduce blazing in alpine landscapes?
“Alpine grazing reduces blazing” is a widely and strongly held view, in both rural and urban regions, concerning fire in Australia’s high country. Whether cattle reduce the incidence and intensity of fire by grazing the vegetation, and hence reducing fuel, has been a central question for decades in the debate about land management in the high country. The available bio-physical evidence, based on long-term ecological research and the behaviour and impacts of the wide-spread 2003 fires, suggests it does not.
January 29, 2011 at 7:50 pm
The MCAV claim on their web-site that the early cattlemen in the Victorian high country – James McFarlane, the O’Rourkes and the Pendergasts – observed and copied the ‘fire-stick farming’ techniques of the Aborigines. Given how slow Europeans have generally been to learn lessons from the indigenous community, I find this difficult to believe. I would be very interested to hear of any evidence one way or the other on this admittedly fascinating subject.
January 16, 2012 at 12:48 pm
they use the traditional owners when it suits them, they never bothered to inform and include TO’s when the trial was first made public, so yes I to dout very much they adapted anything Aboriginal, The Tambo valley is full of massacres sites, their is Aboriginal history and chinese history associated with Omeo and the high country but no chinese or Aboriginals live there? its all about self preservation and are willing to put on an act, bet no one in omeo even have an Aboriginal friend, it doesnt help their cause making far out claims that make no sense, last time I was up there they all thought Aboriginals didnt go above the snow line and now they say they copied Aboriginals. how funny are they
November 27, 2013 at 9:06 am
Some facts for the disbelievers: Unless snow grass is grazed, it lays over and dies. The subsequent thick dead and dry grass thatch stops regeneration because no light penetrates to the ground beneath. Fires in the heathlands run quickly over the dead thatch to the next heathland, spreading and spreading. Grazed snowgrass remains green, regenerates and doesn’t burn. For a few months each year, cattle impeded the encroachment of the heath into the grasslands areas and their grazing kept the grass green. Hence, in Victoria, no fires had crossed the Divide until the Brack’s/Thwaites Labor Government evicted the Cattlemen and the 06/07 fires destroyed and changed many parts of the mountian landscape forever.
[from Cam. Makes you wonder how that snow grass survived all those millions of years before the cattle were introduced in order to re start the regeneration process. One assumes native grazing animals have no role in this?]