Committee Report – Round Table

Margo attended the last Round table on 15th July at Mirranatwa Hall, but Wendy was unable to. This report was supplied by the organisers. A presentation was given on the ‘South Western Bushfire Landscape’ project. Andrew Govanston, Jill Read, Evelyn Nicholson and Steve Balharrie outlined the project. The project came out of the Black Saturday Bushfire Royal Commission and their recommendation that planning to reduce impacts of major bushfires, needed to be more strategic, be landscape-focused, and provide regular opportunities for community involvement and feedback opportunities.

The four key steps of the project were outlined. Step 1; Establish the Environmental Context (Enviro Scan); Step2; Identify Assets and Risk in the landscape; Step 3; Analyse the Risk; Step 4; Monitor implementation of the project and feedback to stakeholders and communities.

Steve informed the group on the Bushfire risk modelling undertaken across the state, and tabled the Victorian Risk profiles, before providing examples of Pheonix computer modelling demonstrating modelled effects of a planned burn.

Andy outlined how the Roundtable could assist the project by providing feedback on the draft Environmental Scan by

  • participating in future workshops to identify Assets and risks
  • selection of strategies
  • opportunities would arise to participate in monitoring and feedback sessions.

Participants then went out into the field to inspect two recently completed fuel reduction burns.

  1. Piccaninny; this burn was designed to reduce threat of wildfire to the Dunkeld community by reducing fuel on the western side of the Serra Range to prevent the fire ramping up the slope and then spotting over the rise into the township. The eastern side of the slope was inspected by delegates and discussion ensued about the low-key nature of the fuel reduction.
  2. The second site visited was at Lynch’s Track Heath, where the small, spot-burning technique has been used to develop a ‘quilt-like’ effect within the landscape to reduce fuels whilst protecting the diverse ground-dwelling mammals such as Bandicoot, Potoroo and Heath Mouse. Mike has written a detailed description of this experimental burn which I hope to summarise next issue.
Mike Stevens explains the small patch winter burning experiment
Mike Stevens explains the small patch winter burning experiment

After lunch, the 2014-15 Fire Operations Plan was presented, and participants were invited to submit their feedback by the end of August. The focus for this year’s FOP will be on a Mount Lubra fuel reduction and the western side of the Serra Range using Ariel Drip torch (ADT) mid-sloped scheduled over a number of years.

In the subsequent discussion, there was a request that next iteration of FOP map have fire-history included.

It was also suggested that African Weed Orchid infestation at Fergusons/Rocklands must be considered in vehicle and plant hygiene preparing and conducting burns in this location.

Participants expressed optimism for the future and the hope that we could look back in 10 years time and see the reduction of fuels without losing species abundance. Overall, people felt it is a good strategy that needs to be continued.

Graham Parkes summarised the day by drawing together information and observations from throughout the day;

  • There is a need for change towards bigger picture strategic planning, and a commitment is needed to implement.
  • The importance of prediction (using tools like Pheonix) and knowledge & history
  • Conversations are needed with our communities and agencies, and must feature local knowledge
  • Every area of the Grampians is different i.e. vegetation, soil, aspect, altitude (highlighted by Don)
  • Today we saw how we have responded to one type of environment.
  • And perhaps most importantly, we need to bring the community along on the journey.(as highlighted by Barry Clugston)