Representatives of local enviro groups met with the DELWP Strategic Fuel Breaks team in the Muckleford forest last week to look at the break proposed along Bells Lane track. This will run from from Muckleford School Rd (east) to Roberts Rd (west)–see the map below. It will be 8 metres wide, on the north side of the road only. It roughly duplicates a wider fuel management corridor in past fire operations plans.
Vegetation in the break will be mulched to between 10 and 30 centimetres; it’s proposed to mulch again in 5 years.
The purpose of the meeting was to identify areas of ecological or cultural significance for exclusion. Vegetation along the track varies from extremely sparse to very healthy. Patches of this healthy vegetation were noted by the team, and we are assured they will be excluded from the mulching exercise.
As we’ve reported before, FOBIF has no problem in principle with fuel breaks around settlements. Breaks through forest areas are more problematic, and the potential for damage to high quality vegetation is more serious. These exercises illustrate the difficulty of achieving fire safety ends without damaging the environment.
So far, the fuel breaks team has shown an impressive attention to detail in the planning of these breaks. One of the key factors in this process is the skill and commitment of the works crews. We are assured that in this project the contractors are fully briefed. Bell’s Lane will be an interesting test, and will be a bit of a rehearsal for the proposed work through the Fryers Forest, where the potential for a horrific scar through high quality biodiversity is very real.
Works on the break are due to start in June.