Create fire breaks

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • One study evaluated the effects of creating fire breaks on reptile populations. This study was in Australia.



  • Abundance (1 study): One replicated, controlled, before-and-after study in Australia found that in areas with fire suppression measures combined with fences to exclude predators, reptile abundance increased over time.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, controlled, before-and-after study in 2013–2015 in tropical savanna in the Northern Territory, Australia (Stokeld et al. 2018) found that reptile abundance remained similar in plots with fire breaks and active fire suppression compared to those with no breaks or suppression, though in fenced plots with fire breaks and suppression reptile abundance increased over time. Reptile abundance remained similar in plots with and without fire breaks (and fire suppression) that were also unfenced (2013: 0.6 reptiles/plot; 2015: 0.5 reptiles/plot; results standardised by sampling effort). In fenced areas, which all had fire breaks and suppression, average reptile abundance doubled over two years (2013: 0.3 reptiles/plot; 2015: 0.7 reptiles/plot; results standardised by sampling effort). Across all plots, reptile abundance increased with time since the last fire (0 months: 2 reptiles/plot; 50 months: 3 reptiles/plot). The effects of fire breaks and suppression and/or fencing on species richness was inconclusive (see original paper for details). Data were collected from six 64 ha plots, with two each treated with: fire breaks and suppression and no exclusion fencing, fire breaks and suppression and exclusion fencing; and no fire breaks, fire suppression or exclusion fencing. Fire breaks (8 m wide) were established around plot perimeters, and fuel reduction burning in the early dry season also took place, along with active fire suppression inside the plots (details not provided). Exclusion fences were installed in December 2013 (1,800 mm high and 550 mm below ground). Reptiles were monitored seasonally (March–April, June–July, October–November) in six transects/plot using drift fences with pitfall traps in 2013–2015.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Sainsbury K.A., Morgan W.H., Watson M., Rotem G., Bouskila A., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2021) Reptile Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for reptiles. Conservation Evidence Series Synopsis. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Reptile Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Reptile Conservation
Reptile Conservation

Reptile Conservation - Published 2021

Reptile synopsis

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