[Opening titles] Ecological burning: restoring and renewing Wilsons Promontory National Park

[Voice over] The Wilsons Promontory Conservation Action Plan has identified habitats where ecological burning will help preserve the Prom’s unique natural environment.

Ecological burning is putting fire into the landscape to help restore and renew fire adapted ecosystems, such as heathlands and coastal grassy woodlands. One of these coastal grasslands is at Yanakie Isthmus.

[Image of a map showing Wilsons Promontory National Park location in Victoria, followed by a map showing the location of Yanakie Isthmus]

[Text on screen] Wilsons Promontory National Park

[Text on screen] Yanakie Isthmus

[Voice over] Up until the 1970s, the Yanakie Isthmus was an open coastal grassland, scattered with coastal banksias and casuarinas on the ridges.

When the Isthmus was added to Wilsons Promontory National Park in 1969, fire was seen as detrimental to the environment, so all fire was suppressed wherever possible. This, added with overgrazing, created the perfect environment for tea tree to take over.

The tea tree has become so thick it's impossible to walk or even look through it. And this is had a detrimental effect on the local wildlife.

[Text on screen] Jim Whelan Project manager Yanakie Isthmus

[Jim Whelan] Behind me is an area that we've been working on for a number of years, applying adaptive management principles to understand how we can treat the tea tree that's here.

We're at the stage where the grasses are coming back, along with associated plants and animals.

And we’re now at the point where we can apply ecological burning techniques.

An ecological burn is the best tool we have to stop the tea tree from reappearing.

Tea tree is very susceptible to fire, if it gets a whiff of smoke it lays down and cries.

It's done at the time of year where there’s still moisture in the soil, so the burn doesn't cook down

into the soil profile and kill out the fungi and microbes that live in the soil which are absolutely critical to the supply of food to the plants.

There are 12 months’ worth of planning gone into applying fire on this site.

On the day, well-trained staff using drip torches light small areas and allow the breeze to carry the fire through.

We deliberately chose a day with mild temperatures and light winds, and this provided a cool slow-moving burn.

In just eight months after our ecological burn, we’re already seeing quite a number of ground cover species recolonise the site.

This is really exciting; this is what's called blady grass or kerosene grass. It burns in winter when it's easy to burn and it's green in summer.

This was part of the environment prior to the 1970s, but we don't see much of it anymore and I haven't seen any on this site until after we've put a burn in.

This is an area we burned about nine years ago.

The grasses are filling in the bare patches, banksias are coming back as are the casuarinas on the ridges.

I'm really excited about this because this is where we've been trying to get to for a very long time and it’s this type of grassland has disappeared across 80% of its former range, and the Prom holds 75% of what's left.

If we lose it from the Prom, then it's gone forever.

[Text on screen] Ecological burns will continue to be part of the Wilsons Promontory Conservation Action Plan to revitalise the Prom. Planned burns are carried out by Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic)

Parks Victoria works as part of Forest Fire Management Victoria with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, VicForests and Melbourne Water.

Discover more at

[Parks Victoria and Forest Fire Management Victoria logos]

[Victoria State Government logo]

[Text on screen] Authorised by Parks Victoria Level 10, 535 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Page last updated: 18/10/21