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Independent monitor calls for burn target review

In 2012, an important report was released which said the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission's recommendation to perform fuel reduction burns in 5% of Victoria's public land annually should be reconsidered.

The need to review this target was outlined in the report by the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission's independent Implementation Monitor, Neil Comrie.

The VNPA has always argued against the 5% target, saying it is an unnecessarily simplistic solution to a complex problem. Even the Royal Commission's own Expert Advisory panel said it wouldn't work.

 

The remarkable mound-building Mallee Fowl has been threatened by unnecessary burning in the Mallee. Photo: Chris Tzaros

The remarkable mound-building Mallee Fowl has been threatened by unnecessary burning in the Mallee. Photo: Chris Tzaros.

To reach the 5% statewide target means performing 390,000 hectares of management burns each year. This can only be done by favouring large burns in remote areas instead of the difficult, expensive smaller burns close to townships, which are the most important for public safety but contribute little to the target.

The Commission believed the Victorian public would only understand a simple target, even though their own experts said that would force managers to go for 'the low-hanging fruit' - those easier large burns in remote areas.

Unfortunately, many burns are now being undertaken in areas where they are impacting greatly on native species, such as the remarkable Mallee Fowl, a species that requires increasingly rare long-unburnt habitat.

There have also been many large burns in drought-affected Box-Ironbark country, even though the drought has left these areas with almost no understorey vegetation.

We think the Victorian Community understands that fire management, both for public safety and protection of our natural heritage, is complex and deserves the very best scientific advice, and well-informed expert management.

 

More information

Bushfire burnoff goal 'needs review' - The Age
Final report - Bushfires Royal Commission Implementation Monitor