Getting fired up for the Tarengo Leek Orchid

Habitat revival through burning is a successful land management technique that has been used for thousands of years by our traditional land owners.

Person watches controlled burn of grassland

A unique collaboration between Saving Our Species (SoS), a local Aboriginal Land Council and the Rural Fire Service (RFS) using this traditional tool is now bringing hope to habitat revitalisation and the future of the endangered Tarengo Leek Orchid (Prasophyllum petilumin) in the State’s south.’

Senior Project Officer for SoS Rob Armstrong said the chosen site is one of only five confirmed for the Tarengo Leek Orchid in New South Wales, although it has not been seen in this location for many years despite regular survey.

'One of the management techniques which this species and similar Leek Orchids have responded to is low intensity autumn burning, so we are trying this at this site,' Rob said.

'Mogo Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) were identified as important stakeholders to the project as they own land adjacent to the site.

'They were invited to help with the recovery of the orchid by undertaking a cultural burn with linked ecological outcomes.'

Through the Office of Environment and Heritage, SoS worked with the NSW RFS to deliver a modified fire training program to the Mogo LALC environmental rangers – and, in turn, the RFS and SoS officers learned more about the benefits of traditional cultural burning.

The day created a strong partnership and trust between all the  stakeholders -–  Mogo LALC, the local Captains Flat Rural Fire Brigade, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council and community members – who played important roles on the day of the burn.

'Unfortunately, the dry and cold winter this year was not conducive to abundant, visible orchid growth and we didn’t find the orchid on this particular return visit,' Debbie said.

'However, SoS will revisit the site with the community again next year to repeat the survey so fingers crossed for better conditions!'

Main photo: Cultural burning: Lorraine Oliver/OEH