Fire dangers and how it impacts your Botanic Gardens

South Australia's warm and dry climate is perfect for the long-term growth of some of our fascinating plant collections, but how do we protect our visitors if weather conditions reach dangerous levels?

Living in a bushfire risk area means danger is on your doorstep.

This is especially true for our two Hills gardens - Mount Lofty Botanic Garden and Wittunga Botanic Garden.

Many times throughout the year, our gardens can sometimes be closed if fire behaviour activity is deemed, by the Country Fire Service (CFS), to be too dangerous on any particular day.

The Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium (BGSH) will give notice to close any of our gardens if fire conditions for the following day are deemed to be either 'Catastrophic' or in some cases 'Extreme' on the CFS' Fire Danger Ratings System.

What is the CFS' Fire Danger Ratings System

Fire dangers and how it impacts your Botanic Gardens
CFS' Fire Danger Ratings System consists of four danger ratings.

The CFS' Fire Danger Ratings System is a simple measure which describes to the general public the potential level of danger should a bushfire occur.

The system consists of four levels:

Moderate - Plan and prepare.
High - Be ready to act.
Extreme - Take action now to protect life and property.
Catastrophic - For your survival, leave bushfire risk areas.

Each level is determined by an index rating known as the Fire Behaviour Index (FBI).

The FBI determines what danger ratings are listed for each particular day.

Fire Danger Ratings describe the consequences of a fire if one was to start. They do not indicate the chance of a fire occurring, although this is a common misconception.

How does the Fire Danger Ratings System impact the Botanic Gardens?

Fire dangers and how it impacts your Botanic Gardens
Plane Tree Lawn at Adelaide Botanic Garden

BGSH lean heavily on the CFS' Fire Danger Safety Ratings before making any decisions about closing gardens in the event of significant fire danger. Below you can find information about when gardens will close based on CFS Fire Danger Safety Ratings:

Adelaide Botanic Garden

Adelaide Botanic Garden falls within the 'Adelaide Metropolitan' region and therefore means it will stay open on any day where the CFS Fire Danger Safety Rating for any particular day is listed as Moderate, High, Extreme or Catastrophic.

However, on days where the rating is Catastrophic, a decision to close the gardens to visitors will be at the discretion of the Director BGSH and be communicated to the public should any closure decision be made.

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden falls within the Adelaide Hills & Mt Lofty Ranges region and therefore means it will stay open on any day where the CFS Fire Danger Safety Rating for any particular day is listed as Moderate or High.

On days where the rating is Extreme or Catastrophic, the garden will be closed to visitors.

Wittunga Botanic Garden

Wittunga Botanic Garden falls within the Adelaide Hills & Mt Lofty Ranges region and therefore means it will stay open on any day where the CFS Fire Danger Safety Rating for any particular day is listed as Moderate, High or Extreme.

On days where the rating is Catastrophic, the garden will be closed to visitors.

It doesn't feel hot, why is the garden closed?

Fire dangers and how it impacts your Botanic Gardens
Aerial shot of Mount Lofty Botanic Garden

While it may feel natural to look at any given day's maximum temperature to determine a fire danger rating - this is not the case.

Ratings are calculated by the CFS using a combination of weather forecasting and other information about vegetation which could fuel a fire.

Fire Danger Ratings are declared for a Fire Area which are based on local government areas.

BGSH uses these ratings to make an informed decision about whether to open/close a garden the night before.

Updates about whether a particular garden is closed be posted on each of the Gardens' Facebook pages: Adelaide Botanic Garden, Mount Lofty Botanic Garden and Wittunga Botanic Garden.

A sitewide alert will also be added to our website.

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