New fire staff a boost to Pilbara projects

Two new staff based in the Pilbara will see a boost to the fire management programs running in the region.

Executing a prescribed burn at Millstream-Chichester National Park in late July 2015, with Department of Parks and Wildlife staff pictured, Park Ranger Sandy Benson (L) and Pedro Palheiro (R). (Photographer: Owen Donovan)

Executing a prescribed burn at Millstream-Chichester National Park in late July 2015, with Department of Parks and Wildlife staff pictured, Park Ranger Sandy Benson (L) and Pedro Palheiro (R). (Photographer: Owen Donovan)

The Department of Parks and Wildlife have recently appointed Pedro Palheiro who replaces Tim Hunt as the Fire Planning Project Officer for the Pilbara Corridors Project and Owen Donovan who replaces Ritchie Boykett as the Regional Fire Coordinator.

The Pilbara Corridors Project is working with Parks and Wildlife to improve fire regimes, coordinate activities across tenures and implement a fire management strategy for the Fortescue Catchment.

Pilbara Corridors Program Manager Ian Cotton said he will be meeting with Ritchie and Owen this upcoming week to discuss Pedro’s role.

Mr Palheiro’s will work with pastoral and mining land managers, as well as indigenous communities to improve collaborative planning in fire management in the Fortescue River catchment. He is based at Millstream Chichester National Park, about 140km south of Karratha.

Mr Palheiro arrived from Portugal with his family in late June to develop fire management plans for the Fortescue River catchment and to carry out prescribed burns in this area over the next two years.

He is a forester and fire officer with eight years’ experience in planning and conducting prescribed burns and bushfire control in the vast pine forests and rangelands of Portugal. During the last WA fire season Pedro worked as a seasonal firefighter for Parks and Wildlife in the Perth Hills District’s Jarrahdale Work Centre.

“The Pilbara and Fortescue catchment has already impressed me with its broad landscapes and magnificent permanent water holes,” Mr Palheiro said.

“I have helped undertake several prescribed burns at Millstream Chichester National Park and beyond in my first month in the Pilbara and am still staggered at the size of the region.”

Over the coming months Pedro will be meeting with pastoralists, resource companies and indigenous communities in the project area to share the latest fuel age maps and to obtain local knowledge on the timing of burning for pastoral and other objectives.

Rangelands NRM, through the Pilbara Corridors Project is planning a workshop in mid-late September at Millstream and Karijini National Parks to case study and progress the Fortescue Fire Management Strategy.

To find out more about the department’s fire management and prescribed burning activities visit http://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/management/fire