Representatives of the Friends of Kalimna Park met with DELWP and Parks Victoria fire officers last week to discuss the planned burn of a section of the Park this autumn. The exercise is set to happen in the next five weeks, conditions permitting.
The fuel reduction exercise will cover a section of the western and southern part of the park, not including Kalimna Point [which has been groomed] or the eastern side of the tourist road [the Happy Valley side]. Part of this latter area may be burned next year, and part groomed.
FOKP representatives expressed the following concerns about the upcoming operations:
1. Mineral earth breaks [used by DELWP as borders for its fires and to protect sites deemed significant] are often intrusive and not rehabilitated properly: they can end up as permanent trail bike or mountain bike tracks. In any case, some are so crudely done as to be erosion hazards.
2. The destruction of big trees is an ongoing annoyance, especially as everyone agrees they’re not a fire hazard. DELWP has undertaken to take measures to prevent fires taking hold at the foot of such trees, and to patrol the fire in the days following its ignition to ensure these measures work.
3. Bursaria vegetation which is habitat for Eltham Copper Butterfly colonies needs to be appropriately protected. The butterfly has recently been observed in sections of the park which were mosaic burned last year. It is important that DELWP has maps of bursaria which should enable it to focus fuel reduction where it matters, not on a precious biodiversity resource.
FOKP will pay careful attention to the operation when it happens. The Department’s approach to consultation has improved markedly in recent years, now it’s time to see improvements in results on the ground.
DELWP is also in consultation with local beekeepers concerned about smoke damage. As we’ve noted, Grey Box, a very important tree for honey and pollen, is flowering prolifically at the moment, and could go on flowering beyond May.