The University of Queensland’s Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation has conducted research at Curragh over the last year to better understand how rehabilitated landforms respond to fire and what this means for long-term resilience.
With the CSIRO predicting a dryer, hotter climate more prone to extreme fire events, the risk of bushfires is of great relevance to Curragh. More needs to be understood about the effect of fire on the rehabilitated areas within the mine perimeter.
Last year, 100 hectares of a 20-year old rehabilitation area was selected for a large-scale fuel reduction burn. Data on fuel loads, flame height, the rate of spread and weather conditions was recorded and fire line intensity calculated.
The results from the burn indicated that grassland areas were found to burn at a much higher severity than open woodland dominated by trees and shrubs. The post-burn vegetation surveys in 2015 showed that areas covered with buffel grass were more affected by the fire than the native trees and shrubs.
The data is currently being analysed by The Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation to determine vegetative recovery and to develop tools to evaluate risk and assess the resilience of rehabilitated landforms. Curragh will continue to be involved in this important research over the coming years.