This features an iconic Australian plant, the Lobed Spinifex, Triodia basedowii. Its habitat stretches from Inland Western Australia through the Northern Territory and South Australia to Western Queensland. As such it is in the foreground of picture perfect sunsets. But it has always been way more important than just fill for photos because it actually shapes its domain. Being rich in resin it burns ferociously even when green. The resulting fires return ash to the soil for other flora to flourish in an environment that is too dry for humus to form and supply the usual nutrients to sustain growth. Every 15 to 20 years it is ready to carry another fire, and everything that grows with it has adapted to that cycle. Hence quite fast growth and fairly large trees exist in a setting that could otherwise be a slow growing and even desolate. Traditionally, Aboriginal people carried out firestick farming, ensuring green growth for the animals they hunted while also looking after the health of the land. Today Indigenous Rangers are continuing that essential work as everything else in the Spinifex environment is still totally reliant on regular and regulated fires. Even Mountain Devils can survive an appropriate fire regime. We need to encourage and support this vital work right across the outback. It needs an almost complete cycle of average rain to set seed that then resembles a farmer’s wheat crop.
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