Proceedings of NCCs 2017 Bushfire Conference

30-31 May 2017, Surry Hills, Sydney

Download Abstracts Booklet

Nature Conservation Council's 11th Biennial Bushfire Conference Fire, Fauna and Ferals: from backyards to bush was held in Sydney in May 2017. This multi-disciplinary conference explored how fire management can support ecological values across the landscape: from our backyards through to the bushland interface and beyond. The program examined the interactions between fire and fauna across a range of ecosystems and looked at integrated approaches to managing fire, native fauna and flora, weeds and pest animals. Building on themes from previous conferences presentations also showcased on-ground fire and restoration projects and Aboriginal burning initiatives.

The conference provided an opportunity to contribute to discussions on how to move beyond current fire management approaches that aim to minimise environmental harm and toward approaches that help protect, support and restore ecological values.

Four Key Conference Themes

  1. Buildings and backyards for people, plants and animals – risk, resilience and adaptation. How can community acceptance of fire as an integral part of our natural systems be supported and broadened?
  2. Using fire for restoration. How is fire being used for ecological restoration and integrated with other land management practices?
  3. Fire and fauna. What has been learnt about the interactions of fire, fauna and habitat and how is this knowledge influencing on-ground management practices?
  4. Fire, weeds and ferals. How can the interactions of fire, weeds and feral animal species be managed most effectively?

Conference Proceedings

Opening Addresses

  • Day 1 Welcome to Country, Uncle Allen Madden (Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council)
  • Day 1 Opening Address, Stuart Midgley (NSW Rural Fire Service, Acting Executive Director Operations) Transcript   Slides
  • Day 1 Opening Address, Kate Smolski (Nature Conservation Council of NSW, CEO) Transcript
  • Day 2 Opening Address, Naomi Stephens (Office of Environment & Heritage, Director Fire and Incident Management) Transcript  Slides

Session 1: Buildings and backyards for people, plants and animals – risk, resilience and adaptation.

  • Coexistence with fire at the interface: sensitivities, opportunities and impediments. Professor Ross Bradstock (University of Wollongong)  Abstract
  • What is Community Bushfire Adaptation? Justin Leonard (CSIRO)  Transcript    Slides
  • A Framework for addressing Ecological Risk in Prescribed Burning. Wayne Kington (AFAC)   Transcript   Slides
  • Review of the Bush Fire Environmental Assessment Code. Lloyd Van der Wallen (NSW Rural Fire Service)   Transcript   Slides
  • Landscape variation in plant flammability: will gullies be safe refugia for native fauna? Brad Murray (University of Technology Sydney)   Transcript   Slides
  • A Local Government Perspective on Bridging the Gap: Fire Management at the Interface. Kellie Langford (Central Coast Council)   Transcript  Slides
  • Revival of Aboriginal Cultural Burning to restore Country. Den Barber (Koori County Firesticks Aboriginal Corporation)   Transcript   Slides

Session 2: Fire, restoration and biodiversity

  • Lessons from the past: learning how to manage highland native grasslands in Tasmania. Denna Kingdom (Tasmanian Land Conservancy)   Transcript   Slides
  • Is re-introduction of burning necessary for threatened Themeda headland grassland EEC restoration: new evidence suggests caution. John Hunter (University of New England)   Transcript  Slides
  • When Preconceptions are Misconceptions – the Importance of Ecological Monitoring to Inform Prescribed Burning. Kirstin Abley (South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources)  Transcript   Slides
  • Quantifying the flammability of fire-sensitive rainforest habitats. Ross Peacock (NSW Rural Fire Service)   Transcript   Slides
  • Collaborative monitoring of two culturally important species before and after fire at Wattleridge Indigenous Protected Area: preliminary results for the echidna and threatened black grevillea. Michelle McKemey (University of New England) and Lesley Patterson (Banbai Enterprise Development Aboriginal Corporation)  Transcript   Slides
  • Vegetation change associated with reduced fire frequency in Border Ranges: loss of grassy forests and associated endangered fauna. Elizabeth Tasker (NSW Office of Environment & Heritage)  Transcript   Slides (transcript available early August)
  • NPWS Cultural Fire Management Policy. Oliver Costello (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service)  Transcript   Slides
  • Coal Point Burn to manage Asparagus aethiopicus. Craig Holland (Lake Macquarie Council), Matthew Anderson (Fire & Rescue NSW) And Suzanne Pritchard (Coal Point Landcare) Transcript   Slides  Video
  • Ecological burn to restore habitat for a critically endangered orchid on the Central Coast. Rochelle Lawson (Central Coast Council) Transcript   Slides

Session 3:  Fire & fauna

  • Managing fire for fauna conservation: what have we learnt and where to next? Alan York (University of Melbourne) Transcript   Slides
  • People, fire and koalas comparing fire management approaches from the far north and south coasts of NSW. Scott Hetherington (Tweed Shire Council) and Max Beukers (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service) Transcript   Slides
  • Reducing the effect of planned burns on hollow-bearing trees. Luke Smith and Emily Cordy (Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning) Transcript   Slides
  • Habitat features of open forests and woodlands in relation to disturbance by fire. John Hunter, on behalf of Peter Croft (University of New England) Transcript   Slides
  • Using a long-term research project to investigate the immediate effects of fire on fauna. Matthew Swan (University of Melbourne) Transcript   Slides
  •  “If we burn it, will they come?” Jacob Sife (Ku-ring-gai Council) Transcript   Slides

Session 4:  Fire, ferals and weeds

  • Fire, feral and native animal interactions: perspectives from central Australia. Chris Dickman (University of Sydney) Transcript   Slides
  • Managing invasive predators and fire to improve native mammal persistence in forest landscapes. Bronwyn Hradsky (University of Melbourne) Transcript (slides not available)
  • The Interaction between Fire and Weeds in Native Vegetation in NSW: A review by the Hotspots Fire Project. Mark Graham and Kevin Taylor (Nature Conservation Council of NSW) Transcript   Slides
  • Re-introducing fire into Cumberland Plain Woodland to reduce weeds and disrupt Bell Miner Associated Dieback. Troy Lessels (Campbelltown City Council) Transcript   Slides   Video
  • Panel Discussion: Managing weeds and ferals pre- and post-fire. What are the challenges and opportunities? How can we improve this?   Transcript
  • More burning, more warts: Frequent burning favours cane toads Diana Virkki (Griffith University and Ten Rivers) Transcript   Slides
  • Using plant population ecology to improve the effectiveness of both fire and weed management. Jonathan Sanders (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service) Transcript   Slides
  • NCC Firesticks Project: Applying Aboriginal knowledge, science and integrated fire, weed and pest species management to restore and maintain biodiversity, habitat connectivity and landscape resilience. Richard Brittingham and Sian Hromek (Nature Conservation Council of NSW) Transcript   Slides   Video

Conference Field Day

Linked with the 2017 Conference NCC held a day in the field at North Head on 1st June, walking over project sites to learn about restoration, regeneration and prescribed burning activities undertaken on the headland. Delegates heard from local experts about how fire influences the management of threatened species including: Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub EEC, Acacia terminalis subsp. terminalis, Long-nosed Bandicoot and Little Penguin. 

Field day materials to download


Conference Sponsors

We would like to acknowledge the generous support of our conference sponsors:



We would also like to acknowledge our Bronze Sponsor - Department of Industry - Lands and promotional support from NRM Jobs.
Flame Robin Image Credit: Tobias Hayashi