To preserve the diversity of the grassland communities in Victoria Park, Ballarat, a multi-agency team carried out ecological burns on 18 April.
Three areas of Victoria Park were identified for controlled burning, these areas are spread throughout the park and consist of native grasslands. On Wednesday 18 April, crews from CFA, HPV, City of Ballarat, Forest Fire Management Victoria (DELWP) and Wadawurrung Corporation carried out burns for ecological purposes and to assist with fire prevention in the area for future fire seasons.
Native grassland management
Victoria Park contains significant sites of indigenous grasslands. The Victoria Park plan indicates these sites. The remnant flora has been preserved largely due to the absence of grazing and frequent mowing. The sites, totaling 16.8 hectares, contain 54 indigenous species.
Mowing or grazing will result in the failure of some species to reproduce through flowering or setting seed. Council wish to preserve the diversity of the grassland communities, by the absence of mowing or grazing and conduct controlled burns with a frequency of 4 to 6 years.
With the absence of fire, the Kangaroo Grass (Themeda Triandra) and introduced weed species will eventually out compete many smaller native species.
Part of one burn involved a Welcome to Country and a smoking ceremony where crews took part. This then led to a traditional burn where the burn was ignited by traditional methods using grass to ignite areas. Traditional burning is aimed at 'healing country' and to assist with the regrowth of the native vegetation.
Tammy Gilson from the Wadawurrung Corporation welcomed all to country and explained the reasons of traditional burning before fire crews continued to burn, this was a good session to the day and welcomed by all.
On the day
Due to time constraints crews only had the opportunity to complete two of the three burns, these being Gillies Street (6.5ha) and Plane Av (2.9ha), the remaining area will be burnt at a later date.
Crews undertook the burn with ideal conditions with light winds and suitable temperatures. Operations was under the control of the CFA with the burn controller being mentored to be able to gain his qualification. This day gave crews the opportunity to take on new roles and take part in a burn to develop existing and learn new skills.
It also gave fire agencies a chance to come together and work as one (multi-agency), incorporating the “safer Together” program where agencies look at fuel management across all land tenures.
Overall approximately 9 hectares were burnt, meeting objectives of reducing the overall fuels by 80% this was achieved with approximately 90% coverage throughout the burn area.
This has also assists in eradicating introduced species allowing for native vegetation to reseed and compete against pastoral grasses.
Three weeks after the burn, the burnt areas have shown signs of regeneration with green grass regrowing, these grasses appear to be natives and during the spring should be a good show of native flowers within the area.