Fire and weeds in the Top End

Parts of northern Australia’s valuable landscape have been transformed by weeds and changed fire patterns. Coupled with land clearing for agricultural development, this has impacted significantly on ecological, social and cultural assets.

One example is the Northern Territory’s greater Darwin region and Daly River catchment, where areas of the 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.

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. However, our current understanding about the combined impacts of these threats and the action needed to improve ecosystem function is limited.

  • Mary River ranger among recovering trees in previously gamba-infested landscape. Photo NESP Northern Hub.
  • Tree death from gamba invasion and subsequent fires (aerial), photo NESP Northern Hub.
  • Recovering native savanna in Mary River National Park, photo NESP Northern Hub.
  • Person standing in front of tall stand of gamba. Photo NESP Northern Hub.
  • Gamba grass fire. Photo Sam Setterfield.
  • Measuring gamba grass fuel loads, photo Fiona Freestone.
  • Collecting soil samples, photo Daisy Lippiatt.
  • Tree death after gamba grass fire, photo Natalie Rossiter-Rachor
  • Gamba grass tussocks, photo Michael Lawrence-Taylor
  • Checking seed germination, photo Natalie Rossiter-Rachor.
  • Gamba grass tussock
  • Gamba grass tussocks, photo Michael Lawrence-Taylor