Contemporary landscape burning patterns in the far North Kimberley region of north‐west Australia: human influences and environmental determinants

Contemporary landscape burning patterns in the far North Kimberley region of north‐west... Aim This study of contemporary landscape burning patterns in the North Kimberley aims to determine the relative influences of environmental factors and compare the management regimes occurring on Aboriginal lands, pastoral leases, national park and crown land. Location The study area is defined at the largest scale by Landsat Scene 108–70 that covers a total land area of 23,134 km2 in the North Kimberley Bioregion of north‐west Australia, including the settlement of Kalumburu, coastline between Vansittart Bay in the west and the mouth of the Berkeley River in the east, and stretching approximately 200 km inland. Methods Two approaches are applied. First, a 10‐year fire history (1990–1999) derived from previous study of satellite (Landsat‐MSS) remote sensing imagery is analysed for broad regional patterns. And secondly, a 2‐year ground‐based survey of burning along major access roads leading to an Aboriginal community is used to show fine‐scale burning patterns. anova and multiple regression analyses are used to determine the influence of year, season, geology, tenure, distance from road and distance from settlement on fire patterns. Results Satellite data indicated that an average of 30.8% (±4.4% SEM) of the study area was burnt each year with considerable variability between years. Approximately 56% of the study area was burnt on three or more occasions over the 10‐year period. A slightly higher proportion of burning occurred on average in the late dry season (17.2 ± 3.6%), compared with the early dry season (13.6 ± 3.3%). The highest fire frequency occurred on basalt substrates, on pastoral tenures, and at distances 5–25 km from roads. Three‐way anova demonstrated that geological substrate and land use were the most significant factors influencing fire history, however a range of smaller interactions were also significant. Analysis of road transects, originating from an Aboriginal settlement, showed that the timing of fire and geology type were the most significant factors affecting the pattern of area burnt. Of the total transect area, 28.3 ± 2.9% was burnt annually with peaks in burning occurring into the dry season months of June, August and September. Basalt uplands (81.2%) and lowlands (30.1%) had greater areas burnt than sandstone (12.3%) and sands (17.7%). Main conclusions Anthropogenic firing is constrained by two major environmental determinants; climate and substrate. Seasonal peaks in burning activity in both the early and late dry season relate to periods of optimal fire‐weather conditions. Substrate factors (geology, soils and physiognomy) influence vegetation‐fuel characteristics and the movement of fire in the landscape. Basalt hills overwhelmingly supported the most frequent wildfire regime in the study region because of their undulating topography and relatively fertile soils that support perennial grasslands. Within these spatial and temporal constraints people significantly influenced the frequency and extent of fire in the North Kimberley thus tenure type and associated land uses had a significant influence on fire patterning. Burning activity is high on pastoral lands and along roads and tracks on some tenure types. While the state government uses aerial control burning and legislation to try to restrict burning to the early dry season across all geology types, in practice burning is being conducted across the full duration of the dry season with early dry season burning focused on sandstone and sand substrates and late dry season burning focused on basalt substrates. There is greater seasonal and spatial variation in burning patterns on landscapes managed by Aboriginal people. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Biogeography Wiley

Contemporary landscape burning patterns in the far North Kimberley region of north‐west Australia: human influences and environmental determinants

Loading next page...
 
/lp/wiley/contemporary-landscape-burning-patterns-in-the-far-north-kimberley-I9NwojmILx
Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0305-0270
eISSN
1365-2699
DOI
10.1111/j.1365-2699.2004.01104.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Aim This study of contemporary landscape burning patterns in the North Kimberley aims to determine the relative influences of environmental factors and compare the management regimes occurring on Aboriginal lands, pastoral leases, national park and crown land. Location The study area is defined at the largest scale by Landsat Scene 108–70 that covers a total land area of 23,134 km2 in the North Kimberley Bioregion of north‐west Australia, including the settlement of Kalumburu, coastline between Vansittart Bay in the west and the mouth of the Berkeley River in the east, and stretching approximately 200 km inland. Methods Two approaches are applied. First, a 10‐year fire history (1990–1999) derived from previous study of satellite (Landsat‐MSS) remote sensing imagery is analysed for broad regional patterns. And secondly, a 2‐year ground‐based survey of burning along major access roads leading to an Aboriginal community is used to show fine‐scale burning patterns. anova and multiple regression analyses are used to determine the influence of year, season, geology, tenure, distance from road and distance from settlement on fire patterns. Results Satellite data indicated that an average of 30.8% (±4.4% SEM) of the study area was burnt each year with considerable variability between years. Approximately 56% of the study area was burnt on three or more occasions over the 10‐year period. A slightly higher proportion of burning occurred on average in the late dry season (17.2 ± 3.6%), compared with the early dry season (13.6 ± 3.3%). The highest fire frequency occurred on basalt substrates, on pastoral tenures, and at distances 5–25 km from roads. Three‐way anova demonstrated that geological substrate and land use were the most significant factors influencing fire history, however a range of smaller interactions were also significant. Analysis of road transects, originating from an Aboriginal settlement, showed that the timing of fire and geology type were the most significant factors affecting the pattern of area burnt. Of the total transect area, 28.3 ± 2.9% was burnt annually with peaks in burning occurring into the dry season months of June, August and September. Basalt uplands (81.2%) and lowlands (30.1%) had greater areas burnt than sandstone (12.3%) and sands (17.7%). Main conclusions Anthropogenic firing is constrained by two major environmental determinants; climate and substrate. Seasonal peaks in burning activity in both the early and late dry season relate to periods of optimal fire‐weather conditions. Substrate factors (geology, soils and physiognomy) influence vegetation‐fuel characteristics and the movement of fire in the landscape. Basalt hills overwhelmingly supported the most frequent wildfire regime in the study region because of their undulating topography and relatively fertile soils that support perennial grasslands. Within these spatial and temporal constraints people significantly influenced the frequency and extent of fire in the North Kimberley thus tenure type and associated land uses had a significant influence on fire patterning. Burning activity is high on pastoral lands and along roads and tracks on some tenure types. While the state government uses aerial control burning and legislation to try to restrict burning to the early dry season across all geology types, in practice burning is being conducted across the full duration of the dry season with early dry season burning focused on sandstone and sand substrates and late dry season burning focused on basalt substrates. There is greater seasonal and spatial variation in burning patterns on landscapes managed by Aboriginal people.

Journal

Journal of BiogeographyWiley

Published: Aug 1, 2004

References

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create folders to
organize your research

Export folders, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off