Gold Coast Hinterland Rainforest Fire Protection Trails

Gold Coast Hinterland Rainforest Fire Protection Trails


With its wet summers the Gold Coast and Hinterland, particularly its rainforests, has historically been considered relatively safe from severe bushfires. In 2019 everything changed. For the first time in recorded history, fire penetrated deep into rainforest areas of Lamington National Park. With climate change it is forecast that catastrophic fire conditions will become more common. To prepare for this increased risk, and better protect our cities and our biodiversity, we need to become better fire managers and to invest more in fire trails. There has been a major increase in interest in indigenous and ecological burning which serves the dual purposes of protecting our landscape and enhancing biodiversity. However, landscape scale use of these techniques requires maintained and accessible fire trails which can be used by fire management vehicles. The Project Area The aim of this project is to create a quality fire trail network over the Upper Austinville Catchment by renewing existing fire trails and creating new ones over land owned and managed by City of Gold Coast, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and private owners. As illustrated in Figure 1. the Austinville Catchment is a highly biodiverse buffer between the Gold Coast Urban Footprint and World Heritage Springbrook National Park.   

The upper catchment includes a significant portion of World Heritage Springbrook National
Park. It also includes Private Nature Refuges which are actively engaged in restoration work,
as well as a large area of well managed Council Conservation Reserve. All these areas
contain critically endangered Sub-tropical Lowland Rainforest.
Project Progress
The project is 75% complete and is ahead of schedule. A major, unexpected challenge was the administrative complexity involved in City of Gold Coast and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service giving permission for the project contractors to conduct work on their land.
The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service were also involved in these discussions and were very supportive of the project as they saw it as a unique opportunity to use Federal Landcare funds to support state and local government, and private owners to develop a high quality, landscape scale fire trail network. There was goodwill from all parties, however the approvals and paperwork took over three months to complete. A great deal has been learnt through this process and solid lines of communication and good relationships have been built which will make future cooperation much easier.

The project engaged experienced fire manager and fire trail constructor Michael Gallagher to renew old trails and construct new trails. Figure 2 illustrates the extent and crosstenure nature of the network

There has been a high degree of community engagement in the project through the
involvement of local Landcare groups. This community engagement will be further strengthened with an information evening on the 21st of April at which the Queensland
Parks and Wildlife Service, the Fire and Fire Biodiversity Consortium, Queensland Fire anRescue Service, and Austinville Landcare will be presenting.
The project has also helped attract investment from the state government in the form oNature Refuge grants for the private properties involved in the project. These grants will bused to conduct ecological burns from the new trails. It is also likely that ecological burnwill be conducted on Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and City of Gold Coast land ithe coming months.
To date the project has:
1. Created relationships and communication channels between Queensland Parks and
Wildlife Service, City of Gold Coast, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, the Fire and  Biodiversity Consortium and the community which will facilitate better landscape fire management outcomes in the future.
2. Created a quality multi-tenure fire trail network across the Upper Austinville catchment that will provide access to fire fighting vehicles to facilitate the lighting of landscape level ecological burns and fight wildfires.
3. Provided a catalyst for carrying out ecological burns by Queensland Fire and Rescue
Service, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Private owners in the 2022 season which will improve the fire dependant ecosystems and protect fire sensitive ecosystems.
4. Engaged the community and educated them on the risks of wildfires and the benefits of fire management and controlled burns in enhancing and protecting biodiversity and protecting assets.

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