Burning boronias

Last week DEPI conducted a management burn in the area designated Fryerstown Block 5, a 44 hectare roughly triangular block between the Campbells Creek Irishtown Road and the Chewton-Vaughan road [see map below].

The fire was designated Asset Protection: the most severe of DEPI’s burn categories, designed to reduce fuel, without regard to ecological values. It’s one of only two areas in this shire where you can find Sticky Boronia [Boronia anemonifolia], a beautiful pink flowering shrub, which flowers in October.

Struggling boronia, Irishtown: few if any of the plants are likely to survive.

Struggling boronia, Irishtown: few if any of the plants are likely to survive.

The plants–there are less than a dozen of them–did not do well. On our estimation it’s likely only one will survive, though we’ll monitor the area to see what happens in the next twelve months and beyond. We’ll also be interested to see how the Department rehabilitates the earth breaks bulldozed around the fire.

In our submission to the fire operations plan in 2013 we wrote, ‘We understand that the purpose of Zone 1 burns is simply asset protection. However, we believe that this has too often in the past led to a scorched earth policy with complete disregard for any ecological value at all. We seek assurance that in Asset Protection Burns effort will be made to reduce fuel with minimum ecological damage.’

DEPI burn zone. In an Asset protection zone there is no obligation on managers to consider ecological values. In this case a plant rare in the district may have been destroyed--and the amenity of the adjacent Goldfields track impaired.

DEPI burn zone. In an Asset protection zone there is no obligation on managers to consider ecological values. In this case a plant rare in the district may have been destroyed–and the amenity of the adjacent Goldfields track impaired.

Unfortunately, in the case of this burn, we weren’t quick enough on the uptake to advise DEPI to look after the boronia…and apparently the Department wasn’t aware of its presence.

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