Sunday, June 8, 2008

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Wyperfeld National Park

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Wyperfeld National Park in Australia's southeastern state of Victoria consists of some 3 000 km2 (1 158 square miles) of dry, native scrubland - classic Australian "bush." Wyperfeld lies in the flood plain of the Murray River, sandwiched between wet, coastal forests and the country's arid interior. The park has water only when the river overflows its banks. Much of the park's vegetation is mallee, a type of shrubland dominated by several sparse, tall varieties of eucalyptus. Over 450 species of plants, 200 species of birds, and a variety of mammals and reptiles live within the park.

Fires set by people have been used to maintain the Australian bush for thousands of years. Fires also occur naturally and occur in the park and surrounding area nearly every year, leaving huge fire scars on the landscape that are easily seen in satellite images (light green areas). Remote sensing is used to document the extent of burn areas, and to help land managers plan controlled burns that help maintain the native vegetation and habitat for native wildlife. Wyperfeld staff currently set fuel-reduction fires along the park's edges but fight all accidental fires.
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