Largest planned burn program achieved in two decades
Wednesday 4 July, 2012
More planned burning has been completed on Victoria’s public land during the past year than any other year since 1991, despite it being one of the wettest years on record.
Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and Parks Victoria completed more than 197,000 hectares of planned burning in 2011/12 as part of an integrated plan to reduce bushfire risk.
DSE Chief Fire Officer, Ewan Waller said this was a great achievement and was key to reducing the risk and impact of bushfires to people, property and communities.
“Weather was a challenge for us this year – some parts of the state had record-breaking rain during autumn, usually the peak time for burning, while other areas were too dry to burn safely.
“We completed at least 90 per cent of each region’s program except for Gippsland, where it was too wet – DSE and Parks Victoria staff were instead providing significant support to respond to floods in Gippsland.
“We also carried out extensive clearing and preparation work to get burn sites ready in parts of the state that remained too wet for burning. We have around 180,000 hectares ready to burn when the weather becomes suitable.
“In addition, Parks Victoria completed 800 hectares of fuel reduction in outer Melbourne’s bushland – including high risk areas such as the Dandenong Ranges National Park – using non-burning techniques such as slashing.”
Mr Waller said DSE is making good progress in working towards the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission planned burning target of five per cent of public land, or 390,000 hectares.
“The Government has invested an additional $35.1 million for the next 12 months to scale up the program to 250,000 hectares and we are in a good position to reach that target, depending on weather.”
Mr Waller said the planned burning program is driven by a risk-based strategy focused on protecting lives and property.
“Part of how we do this is by dividing public land into different fire management zones to determine if and how planned burning should be applied in different areas.
“Burns in the two zones closest to communities, which include areas like the Otways, provide the greatest protection to people and assets and are typically small, complex and very resource intensive.
“When working towards meeting the five per cent target, these zones are our priority. This year our program has covered more than six per cent of the land in each of these two zones.”
With DSE’s planned burn program now well established, Mr Waller took the opportunity to announce that he will not be seeking to renew his contract for the Chief Fire Officer role when his current term ends in November this year.
“I stayed on in the role after the devastating 2009 Black Saturday fires so I could play my part in leading and delivering the critical work in fire prevention, particularly the increase in planned burning,” he said.
“I also wanted to be closely involved in this important period of rebuilding and supporting the development of a fully integrated fire-fighting force led by the Fire Services Commissioner.
“But after 40 years working in various fire and land management roles I’ve decided it’s time to move on. It’s been a pleasure to work with my colleagues at DSE and all involved in land and fire management and with the community.
“I am proud of the efforts of our fire crews, both in fighting bushfires and in the difficult and demanding work of planned burning. Dedicated and committed people work in these fire fighting roles and I respect all who take it on.
“The Chief Fire Officer position is demanding yet also rewarding. It’s time for a fresh approach to this important role.”
DSE Acting Secretary Adam Fennessy said Mr Waller has contributed his expertise in forest, land management and fire roles for more than 40 years.
“I want to thank Ewan for his commitment and professionalism in serving as our Chief Fire Officer for seven years and I wish him well for the future,” Mr Fennessy said.
“He has been instrumental in working with other agencies to build for Victoria one of the world’s most integrated and community-based fire management structures.
“I am pleased that, although intending to spend more time on his Gippsland farm, Ewan will continue to undertake work in fire and land management, so he won’t be lost to the department or Victorian community.”
A new Chief Fire Office will be appointed later this year. This role will be advertised early August.
11 May 2013 10:00am - 8 Jun 2013 2:30pm
This course is an intensive introduction to Botanical Drawing and Painting. Develop observation skills and learn about tonal values, pencil and ink rendering, composition, colour, watercolour and gouache' Explore, develop and understand a variety of techniques to create your own detailed botanical studies. Time: Saturdays 11 May to 8 June, 5 x 4.5 hours = 20 …
19 May 2013 8:00am-3:00pm
An annual event where pets take their owners for a walk around the lake to raise funds to support RSPCA services.
22 May 2013 5:15pm-6:15pm
The bat count is held once a month at dusk when the whole colony of 10,000 -20,000 bats fly out to feed around Melbourne’s suburbs. New counters are very welcome and much appreciated. Experience is not necessary as training is provided on the night. Wear comfortable shoes for walking, dress …