‘Friend or foe? A puzzling and contentious question in the Desert Uplands Bioregion! A friend if it is used correctly and wisely, a foe if it is allowed to run rampant over the countryside. A friend to manage our vegetation and keep our woodland clean, healthy and open range as when the first settlers came to this land. A foe when a lightning strike or a neighbour’s burn ignites and devastates the landscape, killing our native pastures. A vexing question – the only answer is gather what we think is the correct information and carefully trial burning techniques for ourselves.’

Lesley Marshall, Chair Desert Uplands Committee 2007.

This is a Fire Research Project conducted by Rod Fensham, and the collation of information was condensed into a published booklet titled ‘Talking Fire’.  The project sought to address the pros and cons of burning for pastoral management in the Desert Uplands region of Queensland.

‘This was not quite as easy as it seemed. As it turned out even experienced bushmen could disagree about the effects of fire. This does not necessarily mean that one is right and the other wrong, as contradictory opinions and observations may well be valid in different landscapes and circumstances. As such, this booklet cannot be taken as a prescription for guaranteed outcomes. Rather, it attempts to assemble existing knowledge in the hope that graziers and other land managers will continue to use fire and develop a better understanding of its merits and consequences. A deeper knowledge of landscape burning can only come with more trial and error, and careful observations applied to furthering our collective wisdom.’ Rod Fensham

The booklet is arranged into different sections, addressing some of the major issues for pastoralists interested in understanding fire. At the beginning of each section, a selection of observations and opinions from interviews with long-term graziers from the Desert Uplands is given in italic text, these quotes arranging the themes. The following plain text attempts to flesh out these views and observations in the context of relevant published and unpublished data from research studies.  

Technical details of fire behaviour or techniques for lighting or fighting fires are not covered in this publication; as advice on these aspects of burning can be obtained elsewhere.

The booklet can be downloaded via this link: http://www.makingmorefromsheep.com.au/_literature_152734/Talking_Fire_Desert_Uplands.pdf