Zaytuna Farm And The Nightcap Bushfire

Five Techniques For Protecting A Property From Fire

Geoff has just returned to Zaytuna Farm after three months of consultancies and international aid work. Australia has been ravaged by bushfires, which have consumed over 6.3 million hectares. People have lost their lives, properties have been destroyed, and half a billion animals have perished. Summer hasn’t even reached the halfway point, and already these fires are amongst the most intense and extensive ever seen. Nearby Nightcap National Park has been burning since November.

Still, Zaytuna Farm isn’t yet in danger. The fire department has done well holding the spreading fires at bay, though the extended drought, hotter and longer (12 months) than most, has made it all worse. The boundary creek at Zaytuna has dried to a trickle. But, Geoff notes that these environmental issues are “the reason we do what we do.” It is possible to drought-proof a property and make it more fire-resistant.

Geoff offers up his top five techniques for protecting a property from fire:

  1. Capture all of your rainwater from roofs and store it in tanks, always with a full tank at the top of the property. Be sure to put the pipes underground so they can’t be damaged by fire.
  2. Create head-pressure. Install a dam or pond as high as possible on the property. This allows a large amount of water to be gravity-fed to places that might need it.
  3. Keep open areas grazed low and cultivate them with perennial plants that are good for animal forage. These areas should be kept low to prevent spreading grassfires.
  4. Use soil as the main water storage. Earthworks like swales can hydrate the landscape and foster tree growth, particularly with fire-resistant species like fruit trees. Design hard surface runoff to be captured and stored on or infiltrated into the site, keeping vegetation lush and healthy.
  5. Plant fire-resistant species to buffer your property. 

To learn more about permaculture watch Geoff’s Permaculture Masterclass, a 4-part documentary-style film, here:

Editors note: since filming this video Zaytuna Farm has received over 150ml of rain, and the fire in the Nightcap National park has been extinguished. 

If you would like to donate, we recommend a direct donation to the Rural Fire Service to support local brigades. Bushfire affected areas include the following:

New South Wales (NSW):

Queensland (QLD):

Victoria (VIC):

South Australia (SA):


Geoff Lawton

Geoff Lawton is a world renowned Permaculture consultant, designer and teacher. He first took his Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course in 1983 with Bill Mollison the founder of Permaculture. Geoff has undertaken thousands of jobs teaching, consulting, designing, administering and implementing, in 6 continents and close to 50 countries around the world. Clients have included private individuals, groups, communities, governments, aid organizations, non-government organisations and multinational companies under the not-for-profit organisation. In 1996 Geoff was accredited with the Permaculture Community Services Award by the Permaculture movement for services in Australia and around the world. Geoff's official website is Geoff's Facebook profile can be found here.


  1. I believe the extended drought and fires were deliberately caused by our sinister government.
    For years, the criminal politicians have been selling water rights to Chinese fracking operations, and allowing the building of private dams. These corporate conglomerates have literally blocked all the water flow from the great artesian basin, which feeds all the rivers and creeks of QLD and NSW. This has dried up the land considerably. To make it worse, government has put in regulations stopping people from back burning, and implementing other fire management techniques utilised in the past to control the spread of fires. To ensure much of Australia burns to a crisp, they’ve also been spraying the land with aluminium and barium (the main ingredients in sparklers), which ignites flames at much higher temperatures than we’ve ever seen before. Some people report the ground to be 500°C after the fires have gone through! This is not your regular drought. This is not your regular fire. This is man-made with intent to move the populace out of the rural areas and into cities, so the government can reclaim the land, rezone it for industrial purposes and sell it off to the Chinese or other foreign investors.

    1. Hello Seny, Your not alone in your observations. I live in north coastal Washington State and we are also observing the man-made changes. It’s having an impact on our conifer trees and their death is increasing. We are being warned to prepare for increasing fire and I live in the “Shadow of the Olympic Rainforest”. I have also been following the coastal seed-spraying as it’s carried north-east into Canada (robbing them of their rains and increasing the fire dangers) via the trade winds to meet-up with descending systems from Alaska that feed & push the ” moisture collection” down the east side of the Rocky Mountains, thus feeding the headwaters of the Colorado River and causing so much flooding of the farmlands in Nebraska eastward. The sale of properties in Arizona (fed by the Colorado River) are exploding as burned-out over-taxed Californians are making their exit from the state…..and who’s buying all their properties?

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