FOBIF has received an answer from Forest Fire Management to its submission on current plans for management burns in this area.
We print the answer in full below. You can check to see if it answers any of the questions in our submission.We don’t believe it does.
This kind of exchange, or non-exchange, is an example of one of the problems of ‘consultation’: questions are asked, answers are given…but there doesn’t seem to be any connection between the two.
Part of the problem is that we, and other concerned groups, keep asking questions about specific places: and we want specific answers to these questions. Either the Department doesn’t have the answers, or the officers don’t actually have the time to pay attention to each submission. The result casts doubt on the value of the ‘consultation’ process.
Readers can judge for themselves. Here’s the DELWP response to our submission:
‘Thank you for your letter explaining your concerns regarding fuel reduction burns listed on the Loddon Mallee Joint Fuel Management Program (JFMP) 2022/23-2024/25.
‘Strategic Fuel Breaks (SFB) work together with our zoning by establishing areas of reduced fuel that support planned burn operations to be conducted adjacently. The SFB program has been developed in conjunction with our planned burning program.
‘We carry out a range of on-ground preparation works before the burn to ensure that the planned area is safe to ignite when the conditions are right. Planned burn preparation is essential for the safety of fire crews and the community. Preparation works may include raking around trees to protect habitat trees, removing hazardous trees to make the burn safer for fire crews, grading the existing roads and tracks to improve access and reduce the risk of the burn escaping. We’ll adjust ignition and monitor fire behaviour to meet appropriate burn objectives, which is supported by the advancements in weather forecast products, burn prescriptions and smoke modelling.
‘Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMV) continues to collect fuel hazard data pre and post burn for a selection of our high priority burns in the Asset Protection (APZ) and Bushfire Moderation (BMZ) Fire Management Zones, covering at least 20 per cent of burns. We collect this information as part of our tracking of progress toward strategy implementation and into inform our understanding of fuel recovery rates. For example, we have also used this fuel hazard data, collected over many years in Box-Ironbark forests, to update our fuel models used for decision making.
‘As part of the Victorian Bushfire Monitoring Program, FFMV is working to improve our specific understanding of fire effects on the environment – this includes both planned burning and bushfire. In the Box-Ironbark forests, there is a statewide project that the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has contracted the University of Melbourne to undertake through the Bushfire Hazards Cooperative Research Centre. This work commenced early in 2021.
‘We look forward to future constructive collaborations with the Castlemaine community and encourage you to continue to share data and your concerns with us as we endeavour to find the balance between protection of communities and the environment from bushfire.