Round Table Report (23rd June 2015)

The roundtable meeting held on 23 June was not our usual meeting format but instead a workshop with roundtable members and members of the Grampians Advisory Group. In February the Victorian Government asked the Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM) to conduct a review of performance targets for the future bushfire fuel management program on public land. In conducting the review, IGEM examined a risk-based approach to bushfire fuel management against the existing hectare-based performance target program. The IGEM considered many reports and called for written submissions from individuals and organisations with expertise and knowledge of bushfire fuel management on public land. This report was released in late May and can be viewed at

http://www.delwp.vic.gov.au/news-and-announcements/igem-review-into-bushfire-fuel-management

The report makes recommendations which include a shift away from a hectare-based fuel reduction target. It recommends a move toward a risk-reduction approach where the most at-risk areas are prioritised for fuel reduction. The Government is consulting with stakeholders, including fire management agencies and community groups to ensure local values and knowledge are considered. The Grampians roundtable is one of 6 or 7 such community groups being consulted.

The opinions and thoughts from the workshop will be summarised and will be compiled with summaries from the other meetings and form part of a submission presented to cabinet some time in August. Anyone who would like to see any of the feedback I get can contact me.

Wendy


Talking of fire – and it’s a topic that will remain “hot” for a long time yet – committee member Rodney Thompson has sent me a link to an article which disputes the research by Bill Gammage in his book “The Greatest Estate on Earth” which was briefly reviewed here in my report on last year’s Biodiversity Seminar in the Spring newsletter.

Rodney writes: The following link, to an article published online provoked a little thought and reflection on my part. This article does have a bit of a bias against the current burn regime, mostly based on the claim that the decisions were made without adequate and accurate scientific information. It raises some great points about the way our impact on native wildlife impacts on forest flammability, and how introduced pasture species also exacerbate problems. It’s interesting to note one of the attempts to solve the flammability problem on roadsides has resulted in the reintroduction of native grasses. The other point I loved was the idea that our landscape doesn’t thrive on fire, but it tolerates it and recovers as best it can and has adapted to this end.

http://www.eastgippsland.net.au/media/it%E2%80%99s-time-to-stop-lighting-fires

Now, having praised Gammage’s book it is only fair to allow that it has also been criticised. Thank you Rodney for alerting us to this. However I do not want this newsletter to become a debating corner on prescribed burning. Yes it is important but it’s an extremely complex issue, and we don’t have the space or the expertise. But we do hope that research and open- minded debate continue. Ed

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