Judy Edwards

Judy Edwards

Former Minister for the Environment; Science

    Spring burns planned to help combat summer wildfires

    16/09/2005 12:00 AM

    The Department of Conservation and Land Management today released details of a master burn plan as part of consultation with the community on proposed prescribed burns this spring and early summer.

    Environment and Science Minister Judy Edwards today said although the department had identified up to 157 controlled burns for this period, the overall burn program target for the South-West forests in the 2005-06 year was about 200,000ha.

    “The burn program has been designed to meet the key objectives of biodiversity conservation, community protection and the regeneration of native forests following timber harvesting,” Dr Edwards said.

    “The proposed spring-summer program follows the completion of a comprehensive burning program for 2004-05 that covered 213,102ha in the South-West forest areas, of which 52 per cent was burnt last spring and early summer.”

    The Minister said the State Government was committed to using prescribed burning to minimise the impact of bushfires, particularly those near townsites and the metropolitan area.

    “The Perth Hills fire last January burnt about 27,000ha and the single most effective strategy in dealing with such large intense bushfires was to have a network of areas of low fuels in extensive areas of native vegetation,” she said.

    “History has shown that the ability to stop and control the spread of major bushfires can be directly attributed to reduced fuel loads, either by prescribed burning or by previous wildfires.”

    Dr Edwards said last year’s fire season was extremely busy for CALM, with staff attending 406 wildfires in the South-West region, of which 19 fires were greater than 10ha.

    “The total area of wildfires in the State that was attended by CALM in 2004-05 was 3,832,950ha, of which 50,569ha were in the South-West,” she said.

    “The Gallop Government has added $2.75million funding to CALM in the current financial year and each ongoing year to hire additional fire fighting staff in the South-West.

    “This is on top of increased funding provided to CALM for fire management in 2003-04, which was $24.3million over four years. This extra funding is currently being rolled out in all regions of the State. In the Kimberley region, a new fire ecologist to be based at Kununurra has just been appointed.

    “In a State such as ours, with varying landscapes and low rainfall, it is imperative that support and funding be provided to ensure where possible that wildfires are prevented and controlled.”

    Dr Edwards said full details and maps of areas scheduled for prescribed burning would be available at CALM’s offices and work centres throughout the South-West and on CALM’s website at http://www.naturebase.net

    These details included the location and size of planned burns and the burn objectives.

    “CALM will also be undertaking a series of briefings in South-West towns for stakeholders and community representatives,” the Minister said.

    “Neighbours will also be notified well in advance of burns being carried out.”

    Minister's office: 9220 5050