Fauna and flora in the Top End is adapted to relatively cool fires. For
example our eucalypts have less oil in their leaves than southern species,
and they lack the decordicate bark.
This is from
ass-andropogon-gayanus#Intro>, written by Gabriel Crowley.
Gamba Grass is so vigorous that little else grows near it. It is able to
trap most of the available nitrogen to the exclusion of other plants. Small
ground-layer plants are most at risk - the endangered Glenluckie Helicteres
being one of them. Two of the three known populations of this small shrub
grow in areas that are heavily infested by Gamba Grass.
The voluminous bulk of Gamba Grass results in fires that are both intense
and extensive. Even in the early dry season, they may cause complete ground
cover and canopy loss. Several species may be both outcompeted by Gamba
Grass and then incinerated in a Gamba Grass-fuelled fire. The Vulnerable
Armstrong's Cycad is one threatened plant that could be lost in this
process. Gamba Grass increases the fuel load to such an extent that even
tree death from fire becomes a regular event.
While all tree death as a result of exotic grass fires is undesirable, the
impact on rainforests is the most worrying. Rainforests in the Northern
Territory largely persist in fire-protected pockets created by topography,
rock formations and springs. Gamba Grass can encroach on these pockets,
rendering them flammable instead of fire-protected. The first rainforest
plants to be displaced by Gamba Grass fires are likely to be species found
at the rainforest edge, such as the epiphytic Luisia Orchid and the
ground-dwelling Malaxis orchid. If such fires cause further attrition of
rainforest patches, even species typically found in the core of patches,
such as the Darwin Palm, Pternandra and the ground-dwelling Zeuxine orchid,
could be affected. Large stands of Gamba Grass grow on the Mary River
floodplain, where they abut hills containing the threatened rainforest
species Yellow Star. If Gamba Grass is not controlled in this area, the
habitat of this species is likely to get burnt, and Yellow Star along with
it. On the Tiwi Islands, fires fuelled by Gamba Grass could also threaten
rainforests containing Mitrella, Quandong, Xylopia, Native Walnut,
Tarennoidea, Tiwi Islands Waxflower, Mapania and Dendromyza. Through its
effect on fire regime Gamba Grass also has the potential to reduce the
abundance of the two Typhonium species that are found only on the Tiwi
The impact on animals can be equally severe. Large Gamba Grass plants leave
little or no spaces between grass clumps, reducing the feeding habitat of
many species. Additionally, wildlife have nowhere to hide from the flames of
Gamba Grass fire, and after fire, cannot access the shelter that would have
once been provided by unburnt patches of grass, leaf litter and logs.
Hollows high up in the tree canopy may also be burnt. If these are occupied
during a fire, the animals inside them will probably die. Once a fire has
passed, surviving animals can be deprived of shelter and nesting sites. Each
of these processes can be devastating, as the following examples illustrate.
For much of the year, Gouldian Finches and Partridge Pigeons feed on seeds
that fall on patches of bare ground between clumps of grasses and other
herbaceous plants. Gamba Grass can completely destroy this habitat. First it
replaces the seed-producing native plants. Then, as the growing season
progresses, it occupies any bare ground, and, if burnt, later converts much
of the habitat to little else besides bare ground. Were Gamba Grass to
invade Gouldian Finch habitat, the intense fires it fuels are also likely to
destroy nest trees. If lit early in the year, these fires may also kill
chicks in the nests. Similarly, survival of Northern Quoll, Brush-tailed
Rabbit-rat, or Northern Brush-tailed Phascogale individuals sheltering in
tree hollows burnt in Gamba Grass fires could be jeopadised (sic).
Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow
PO Box 71, Darwin River,
043 8650 835
On 4/9/13 6:45 PM, "Charles" <> wrote:
> Do they consider areas that contain rare and endangered fauna? And if so look
> to relocate? I doubt it.
> Aussie plants and animals are rather used to fires though (both natural and
> those started by humans for the last 50,000 odd years or so).
> Charles Hunter
> +61 402 907 577
> On 04/09/2013, at 6:22 PM, Tony Palliser <> wrote:
>> With so much smoke in the air today - it made me wonder just how beneficial
>> such a practice is. To have so much wildlife destroyed and to do this in
>> the middle of the breeding season - is it really the answer? No one likes
>> wildfires, but this just seems so wrong to me. Surely it would be better to
>> spend a lot more money educating, preventing, forest watching and tackling
>> fires early when they occur in summer than to destroy so much right now.
>> Check the extent of the damage being done here:
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