Disturbance: Planning

In accordance with our Nature Conservation Plan, each year we aim to slash or burn between one and two hectares of vegetation, in a mosaic pattern across the property. The Plan specifies a target area for each vegetation community, as shown in the table below.

Vegetation type

Disturbance objectives

Disturbance type

Annual target for disturbance (ha)

Freshwater aquatic sedgeland and rushland

The few threatened species known from this habitat (Amphibromus neesii, Thelymitra holmesii, and Gratiola pubescens) appear to recover well from a burn, but it is unknown whether burning is essential for them to thrive.

Burn with adjoining SHL when it simplifies the boundary.


Eucalyptus amygdalina coastal forest and woodland

Avoid loss of biodiversity; actively encourage smaller herbaceous plants to regenerate, flower and fruit; retain thickets to provide cover for mammals and birds.

Slash and leave; slash and remove or rake to windrows and burn; or burn where no overhead canopy or juvenile trees.


Eucalyptus ovata forest and woodland

Maintain threatened plant community; retain thickets to provide cover for mammals and birds.

Burn when there is a low threat to juvenile trees; otherwise slash.


Wet heathland

Avoid loss of biodiversity; actively encourage flowering and fruiting of threatened plant species; retain thickets to provide cover for mammals and birds.

Burn; or slash if smaller patches need to be disturbed for experimental reasons.


In our monitoring program we are trying to determine the optimum burn interval for each orchid species. Our monitoring program and adaptive management principles help us to determine the particular areas to be disturbed each year.

Once areas are selected for disturbance we allocate them to be slashed or burnt. Generally woodland is slashed, especially if there are shrubs or juvenile trees that we wish to protect. The open wet heathland sites are generally burnt because the vegetation is too thick to slash easily. Larger areas to be burnt are divided into burn units with slashed fire breaks in between them.

About twenty percent of the property is to remain undisturbed in order to maximise different types of available habitat, and to retain cover for animals, birds, invertebrates and other organisms.

Protection of the built assets on Rubicon and neighbouring land constrains management options. For example, it is not feasible to burn the whole property with a hot fire in summer, even if this most closely resembles the natural fires of the past.

Over the last ten years, we have disturbed numerous areas at Rubicon, formerly with the assistance of local Tasmania Fire Service volunteers. The map of disturbance below shows burnt and slashed areas. The more recent disturbance is depicted in more intense colour; older disturbance is more transparent.

Disturbance map 2015
Map data: Google