Still no NT Government action on buffel

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Why is Central Australia almost the only region nationally at an increased wildfire risk across autumn?

The National Council for Fire and Emergency Services unequivocally links this risk to buffel grass invasion and buffel grass regrowth and curing, enabling fire conditions to overcome the longstanding norm for fire regimes across arid and semi-arid lands where “wildfire frequency is typically once a decade”.

Buffel’s ability to colonise rivers, flood plains, hills, sandplains and sandhills also enables its “continuity of grass fuels” across landscapes.

Fires caused by buffel grass invasion are a global issue, where buffel was implicated in the catastrophic Maui fires in Hawaii in August 2023, which unfortunately resulted in nearly 100 human fatalities.

Bushfires NT on March 1 also extended the Fire Danger Season for the majority of Central Australia until May 2024. This extends the official fire danger period to nine months. The wildfire season began a month earlier, with major wildfires on the edge of Mparntwe Alice Springs burning on August 12, 2023.

The Territory Government still has no strategies to mitigate the buffel grass threat. There is still no buffel grass management plan because buffel grass has still not been declared a weed. This is decades overdue.

More than 50 organisations across health, culture, tourism, land management, the arts, unions and environment have called on Territory Environment Minister, Kate Worden, to declare buffel grass a Class A/B weed for all land tenure types across the Northern Territory.

Alex Vaughan, Policy Officer, Arid Lands Environment Centre

MAP at top by the Australian and New Zealand National Council for Fire and Emergency Services.

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