On the subject of monitoring and reporting, almost everything in the Monitor’s Report referred to developing strategies, frameworks, ‘additional measures’ to be implemented: to things that are going to be done, not things that have been done. Meanwhile, the burning program charges on: it’s like someone driving flat out along the highway at twice the speed limit, while a group of experts in the back seat try to figure out whether this is dangerous, or whether the engine might burn out.
We’ve put some giveaway passages in bold:
‘[The draft new annual reporting framework] is a comprehensive framework that also includes commentary on community engagement activities. Data will be presented in a simple, user-friendly format, which displays outcomes against performance indicators via a traffic light ratings system. The framework reviewed by the BRCIM was indicative and did not include actual data. Data will be incorporated in time for publication in the DEPI 2012-13 Annual Report on the Planned burning program.
‘The BRCIM notes the progress in the development of additional measures to ensure planned burning outcomes are captured and reported. It is, however, premature to comment on the efficacy of these initiatives until they are incorporated into the DEPI Annual Report on the Planned Burning Program as outlined in recommendation 57(a) above. The BRCIM will revisit action 57(b) in the 2014 Annual Report.
‘Biodiversity monitoring has also been assisting in the development of metrics for measuring the impact of planned burning on biodiversity. These will ultimately be incorporated into the planned burning outcomes and improved public reporting framework … The BRCIM was provided with a copy of the first HawkEye Annual Report for 2011-12. The report provides an excellent overview of Victoria’s biodiversity in the context of planned burning, as well as progress to date and early outputs from specific HawkEye field projects. The BRCIM is advised that future reports on monitoring will provide more evidence of how research findings are being used to inform planned burning…
‘The BRCIM considers that good progress continues to be made in improving the State’s understanding of the effects of planned burning on biodiversity, as intended by the VBRC.’
Mr Comrie will continue to monitor this area of DEPI’s practice. Readers should compare his cautious optimism with the information FOBIF received at the July briefing.