Bribie Island has 3087 hectares of pine plantation forest within the national park area, much of which was fire damaged in 2019. This area is regenerating over this wet summer of 2020/21 and looking green again, putting the area back on track to supply the states timber needs.
The area is managed by HQ Plantations who sustainably manage 320,000 hectares of forest throughout the state of Queensland in partnership with the Queensland Government. These plantations produce up to 2.3 million cubic metres of logs annually that support both domestic and export industries.
As well as supplying plantation logs, HQ Plantations protects native forests. The native forests provide a range of conservation, community and other values. HQ Plantations protects these plantations for future benefits.
HQ Plantations undertakes prescribed burning which removes accumulated forest litter (leaves and needles, grass, etc) from the forest floor during, primarily, the cooler months to reduce fuel for wildfires that may occur during the fire danger period. This is usually in the spring and early summer months, when higher temperatures can combine with periods of lower rainfall and humidity.
Prescribed burns are low intensity or cooler fires where flames are kept under strict control (usually less than one metre). These are often undertaken after rain and in conditions where smoke will be blown away from population centres and major roads.
Unseasonal dry and hot conditions led to the 2019 fires which decimated the forest and wildlife, which are only now returning to normal. Kangaroos and wallabies are in good numbers along Bribie Island’s inland track now and native plants are also back strong after recent rains.
Over the years, Bribie Island has been subject to repeated unplanned fires. Before the late 1980s, unplanned fires were not a major issue on Bribie Island. Since the early 1990s, unplanned fires have burnt significant areas of the island at least every three to four years. This is particularly a problem on the southern populated end of the island, where natural areas are more accessible. Bribie Island supports highly flammable vegetation types that abut densely populated residential and commercial areas.
For example, in 1994 a fire jumped the Pumicestone Passage from the mainland and burnt most of the island. Also, in 2002 much of the natural vegetation on the southern end of the island was subject to a high intensity wildfire. These fires have resulted in too-frequent burning of some vegetation communities, particularly on the southern end of the island. Repeated frequent burning may result in a reduction of flora and fauna species diversity.
There is some evidence that some of these fires were deliberately lit or resulted from unsupervised camp fires as recently seen on Fraser Island. It is imperative that Bribie Island users be careful lighting fires for any reason and be aware of prevailing weather conditions if the lighting of a fire is absolutely necessary. The diversity of plant and animal life on the island we all know and love depends on it.
By Staff Writer Mozza