Picture of top end burning poster.

Top End Burning - poster

Frequent fire is a natural part of the Top End environment - the issue is not if fire should occur, but rather when fire should occur. (1 page)

  • 29 April 2011 | Updated 14 March 2014

This poster provides an overview of fire and biodiversity in the Top End of the Northern Territory, Australia.

Fires have been burning the Top End bush for thousands of years. Each year wet season rains produce lush plant growth.

At the end of the wet season the vegetation dries out quickly, providing a large amount of fuel for dry season fires. In some parts of the Top End, more than 50 per cent of the country is burnt every year.

The savanna vegetation that dominates northern Australia is a result of frequent fire, and the savanna biota is generally well-adapted to it. Smoke from savanna burning makes a significant contribution to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

What type of fire is best for plants and animals?

There is no one type of fire that benefits all plants and animals. Whatever happens with fire, some species will benefit and some others will be disadvantaged.

Fire has an important role in maintaining different types of habitat to satisfy the needs of all species.

However, results from CSIRO’s fire research in northern Australia over the past 20 years indicate that to maintain biodiversity, more areas of savanna should remain unburnt for several years.

Reducing overall fire frequency would reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as benefit biodiversity.

Read more about Bushfires.