Readers of the local press will be aware that the 171 hectare management burn planned for the town side of Kalimna tourist road has been postponed.
The postponement came after a group of local naturalists raised the inconvenient fact that the burn site contained colonies of the Eltham Copper butterfly. This is listed nationally as an endangered species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation act.
DELWP fire managers had planned this mosaic burn with some diligence, with plenty of time put into local consultation: but they did not have access to important survey information held in the Department’s own archives. This seems to be a case of inadequate communication between fire officers and the Department’s Terrestrial Biodiversity unit. Fundamental to this communication fault is the fact that much of the information collected in surveys funded since the Royal Commission has not been entered into Department data bases, and is therefore not easily available to managers.
For years FOBIF members have joked cynically that the Department frequently conducts monitoring surveys, then puts all the resulting information into a filing cabinet in an unknown location, never to be accessed. Inaccurate and unfair? Yes, but with a degree of uncomfortable truth.
The management burn has been postponed to Autumn 2019. The challenge for the Department between now and then is to develop a fuel management strategy which ensures safety for the communities of Castlemaine and Chewton without threatening one of Australia’s most endangered species.