Burning: have your say!

 The DEPI planned burning program is now on the internet for public consideration. As we have previously reported, the program contains new proposed burn areas, mainly centred around settlement, and targeted as Asset Protection Zones.

The program can be seen here. It’s not a particularly friendly website, and the maps may be slow to load, but it’s important that people familiarise themselves with burns planned in their own area.

DEPI has shown that it is interested in community feedback: instructions on how to do this are on the above link, but it’s probably simpler to email concerns to planned.burning@depi.vic.gov.au . The consultation is open till August 31.

FOBIF’s position on this question has been consistent:

1.   We are not opposed to fuel reduction clearly and effectively directed at protection of communities and assets.

2.   We are sceptical of the value of recklessly burning vast areas remote from settlement, with little evidence of any ecological or safety concern. We believe that the recent report by the Royal Commission Implementation Monitor validates this view.

In all cases we believe operations should be conducted with respect for the environment: this means more than just drawing a boundary around a zone and setting fire to it.

In the case of the present plans, we are particularly concerned about the plan to burn Kalimna Park. DEPI showed in last year’s Poverty Gully burns that it could conduct its operations with care for ecological values, but even there precious big old trees were needlessly brought down. FOBIF has produced a weed map of Kalimna. We believe that the proposed operation can be used to get rid of flammable weeds and that fuel reduction should be achieved without destroying the Park’s many precious assets. This can only be done with a variety of fuel reduction methods, not just blunt application of fire.

We are also concerned about remote area burns: in particular, the proposed burning of Peppertree track and Rusconi’s Road, in the Tarilta catchment, if not properly managed, will go close to completing the destruction of this wonderful area; and the large planned burn at Amanda’s Track, at the south end of the Diggings Park, presents a serious ecological challenge to managers.

We urge members to write to the above address expressing an interest in the areas they know best. Intense interest from this area last year has caused some modification of DEPI plans. It’s a simple fact that some DEPI operatives work a lot better if they think they are being closely watched. We would like to avoid a repetition of the scandalous carelessness of past operations like last year’s Tarilta Gorge burn.

FOBIF’s submission to last year’s FOP can be found here. It’s still relevant. Modifications to last year’s plan include the addition of several Asset Protection burns; a sensible change to the zoning of Mount Tarrengower [the whole of the mountain had been unaccountably zoned Asset Protection]; and others which can be seen here.

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