Fire and weeds in the Top End

A Northern Hub project is improving our understanding of the combined impacts of weed invasion, land clearing and changes to fire patterns on the natural landscape in the Top End.

In the Northern Territory’s greater Darwin region and Daly River catchment, areas of tropical savanna have been invaded by weeds that threaten native plants and animals, and impede access to parts of the landscape. Some weeds also carry high fuel loads ultimately leading to more intense fires which, after this season’s good rainfall and therefore bigger fuel loads, are likely to be particularly damaging.

“Invasion by grassy weeds and the resulting changes in fire regimes has the ability to significantly alter ecosystem processes and may eventually lead to ecosystem failure”, researcher Dr Natalie Rossiter-Rachor from Charles Darwin University explained.

“The information produced by this project is critical to help land use planners and managers predict and hopefully prevent this, as well as to improve safety and minimise losses to other assets”.

Our current understanding about the combined impacts of such threats to ecosystem function, and the actions needed to address them, is limited. The project will draw on previous research and use new data to model the likely scenarios of changes in ecosystem function over the next 30 years in the Darwin and Daly regions.

For more information, see this factsheet or contact Natalie Rossiter-Rachor.

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