The Northern Rivers Fire and Biodiversity Consortium (NRFABCON) provides a network for land managers and stakeholders seeking a coordinated, landscape level approach to appropriate fire management for biodiversity across the Northern Rivers region. As a key action of the Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (DECCW NSW 2010), the NRFABCON was formed in August 2011, with its operations focused in the upper north east reaches of the Northern Rivers area of NSW.
This geographic area allows for efficient coordination and emphasis on the fire-related dynamics within local vegetation types. Working across seven local government areas, the NRFABCON consults with a broad range of stakeholders throughout the region and recognises and respects the independence of representative organisations. Those providing input to the Consortium include State government agencies involved in natural resource management and fire management, local councils, and non-government organisations involved in conservation, property management including primary production, and on-ground project management and community engagement, both from a biodiversity and fire management perspective. Research institutes and organisations are also encouraged to be involved in the Consortium and Consortium based projects. Additionally, the NRFABCON works in close cooperation with the South-east Queensland Fire and Biodiversity Consortium.
The NRFABCON provides a forum to:
In a short period the Consortium has successfully coordinated on-ground and policy actions that have raised the profile of fire as a management tool for biodiversity conservation in the Northern Rivers region. Five working groups have been established under the NRFABCON to actively undertake projects with on-ground and policy outcomes.
These groups are working on:
Each of these groups addresses hurdles that have hindered the progress of activities leading to positive fire-related environmental outcomes, with solutions to these barriers now being enthusiastically tackled. The Consortium recognises that cross-sector and cross-tenure collaboration is critical for fire management at the landscape level, with the identification and understanding of stakeholder roles an important step in realising the benefits that can be gained by working in partnership. For the first time in NSW the Consortium provides a collaborative framework that coordinates and leverages resources and efforts aimed at raising the role of fire as an important restoration tool for managing biodiversity conservation. Click here for more information on the projects.
Coordinator Role and Financial Support
Since the establishment of the NRFABCON, participants identified that being able to effectively achieve the objectives of the Consortium would require the employment of a Coordinator. As a result a part-time coordinator has been employed to oversee the administrative and operational functions of the Consortium and to ensure that projects continue to advance the objectives of the NRFABCON.
The part-time coordinator is currently funded by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH)(1 day/week) and hosted by Northern Landcare Support Services. This arrangement is in place only until December 2015.
Consortium members continue to recognise the need to retain a coordinator. The coordinator plays a critical role in retaining the impetus of both the Consortium model and of the projects being undertaken by the Consortium. Some agencies have indicated a capacity to house the coordinator position on a regional basis. This may be achieved by utilising the skills of an existing part-time employee or employing a part-time person specifically for the role. However, sourcing the funding for a salary, on-costs and additional operational costs is a major challenge, with mostConsortium members limited in their ability to assist in funding the role.
Consortium members recognise that no one partner is in a position to financially support the position for an indefinite period. Grant applications that include funding for a coordinator as part of project delivery will continue to be sought.
The Consortium would like to extend its appreciation for previous funds received by the Northern Rivers CMA, Tweed Shire Council, Caring For Our Country, Nature Conservation Council and the Office of Environment and Heritage, which is now expended.