We have received a response from DSE to our submission on the draft Fire Operations Plan. We will be making a comment on this response and the state of consultations on fire management after the upcoming meeting between DSE and local groups in Bendigo on Tuesday next, October 9. The DSE response is printed in full below:
‘Thank you for your submission regarding our planned burning in the Murray Goldfields District. Your input has been considered during our planning process.
‘The DSE planned burning program aims to minimise the impact of major bushfire on human life, property and the environment. The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission recommended changes to the Code of Practice for Fire Management on Public Land (2006). This Code supports delivery of an expanded planned burning program to reduce fuel levels and the likelihood of bush fires becoming uncontrollable.
‘Our Fire Operations Planning Process starts in February and is finalised in October. During this period DSE consults with a broad range of stakeholders regarding our planned burning on public land.
‘DSE has considered your submission and makes the following response:
- This year a new “Code of Practice for bushfire management on public land 2012” was released which outlines Zone 3 or Landscape Management Zone (LMZ) burns with an aim to provide bushfire protection outcomes by reducing the overall fuel and bushfire hazard in the landscape as well as provide for ecological outcomes. The burns zoned as LMZ’s that you have identified have an aim for at least 20% burn coverage and up to perhaps 40% coverage of target areas within the burn unit.
- Please note that CAS 012 – A Frame track has been withdrawn from the Fire Operations to allow for longer growth stages.
- CAS 005 – Nuggetty Hill has been reduced in size.
- CAS009 Rusconis Road has been halved in size to exclude some rich flora and fauna values in line with your comments.
- With regard to CASOO 1, this burn is currently scheduled for this spring. This burn is located in an Asset Protection Zone (APZ). This zone aims to provide the highest level of localised protection to human life and property. This means there are few opportunities to modify the burn; however we are reviewing a target area approach inline with values you have mentioned.
- Zone placement takes into consideration range of factors including, risk to life and property, community infrastructure, appropriate regimes for vegetation, operational achievability and hazard rating. It is acknowledged achieving the objectives of Asset protection Zones may have negative ecological impacts.
- Biodiversity staff are consulted during the development of the Fire Operations Plan. This includes development of prescriptions consistent with zoning objectives in order to minimise ecological impacts where possible. I have discussed your recommended prescriptions to biodiversity. We are aware of the impacts of Spring burns and will seek to avoid them or programme them for late spring. Please note that some vulnerable or endangered biodiversity values ie. Powerful Owls require Spring bums to have least impact. Ben Thomas (email@example.com) is the biodiversity representative and is more than happy to discuss biodiversity values with you at any time.
- At a State level, the planned burning program is continuing to establish a long-term biodiversity monitoring project, HawkEye, to measure and model the impacts of planned burning and bushfires on the environment.
- At a District level, monitoring is EVC based and occurs on a selection of representative sites and species. DSE has established 22 pre and post burn flora monitoring sites within the Murray Goldfields area. We have also partnered with Deakin University and Parks Victoria to carry out a research project in the box-ironbark forests of the Heathcote Graytown area. This project commenced in 2010 and will measure the forests’ responses to two different fire intensities applied over different seasons. This information, combined with other local knowledge, informs decisions about where and when to carry out planned bums and how to reduce the impact of bums on the bush.
- It is important that we take a whole of landscape approach with a focus on strategic fire protection burns and works and that Bushfire mitigation and management is a shared responsibility between the community, industries, land and fire agencies and government. DSE works with local government to implement a slashing and mulching program closer to houses and in many cases this helps to deal with weed infestation issues.
- In relation to your concerns about colonies of the Castlemaine Spider Orchid within CAS 107 and CAS 008 we are aware of these values and will seek to exclude these values from burning.
‘DSE values all submissions regarding the Fire Operations Plan and information received has resulted in a number of burns being reduced, modified or withdrawn.
‘I again thank you for your interest and your submission.’
Fire Management Officer
Murray Goldfields District