Persoonia hindii recovering post fire
Persoonia hindii is an extremely rare threatened species that is restricted to the Newnes State Forest in the Blue Mountains. The forest was burnt extensively in the 2019–2020 Gospers Mountain bushfire.
One of the main threats to Persoonia hindii is too-frequent fires, which reduce the time the plant has to recover before another fire event occurs. The Persoonia hindii conservation project, funded under the Saving our Species program, is working to better understand this species’ ecology in order to help land managers implement the most appropriate fire regimes to support the conservation of this endangered species.
We caught up with Threatened Species Officer Jess Peterie to find out how an ‘appropriate fire regime’ for a species is determined, and how it affects management actions for the conservation of a species.
‘A minimum fire interval refers to the time needed between fire to allow plants to recover and reach maturity. Knowing the minimum fire interval for plants is really important in biodiversity conservation as it informs what an appropriate fire regime is. This is especially important for plants that rely on seed for reproduction, as fire can exhaust the soil seedbank, and it’s also important for the conservation of threatened species. The minimum fire interval is different for every species.
‘Since the Gospers Mountain fire, 30 sites at Newnes Plateau have been monitored every 6 months. The aim is to quantify the scale and intensity of fire impact on monitoring plots. It helps us assess the recovery of the species, particularly as some sites experienced fire both in 2014 and more recently. It also helps us identify any threats that need to be managed to give the species the best possible chance to recover. Closely monitoring sites also provides an opportunity to understand how different fire intervals affect recovery of the species.
‘It was previously thought that Persoonia hindii required a minimum fire interval of at least 10 years. But what we have found is that Persoonia hindii is recovering at all 5 sites that experienced a fire interval of less than 7 years. So, it’s 3 years less than what we previously thought.
‘We also found the species recovering at 27 of the 30 sites with minimal threats identified at all sites. Two plants were found with fruit developing only 16 months after fire; previously the species was observed with fruit 18 months after fire.
‘Even though these results are promising, because Persoonia hindii is a highly clonal species, it’s not yet clear what the impacts to genetic diversity might be with shortened fire intervals.’
Find out more about fire management for biodiversity conservation.
Visit the Persoonia hindii profile page to find out more about this species.