Reducing Bushfire Risk
Managing bushfire risk is an ongoing and shared responsibility and everyone has a role.
Under our new approach, local communities are involved in decision making about bushfire management all year round – this means understanding what you care about most and working with you to determine local solutions to reduce bushfire risk.
This new approach sees us move from a hectare target for planned burns, to a risk reduction target for bushfire management. It means a more integrated approach across public and private land, with fuel management just one of the range of different management actions we will take to protect lives, homes, jobs and the environment.
We have worked with the community to develop strategic bushfire management planning frameworks that:
- identify values to be protected from bushfire
- assesses bushfire risk to those values, and
- set out strategies to manage this risk.
Individual regional strategies are available on Safer Together for each Bushfire Risk Landscape.
These regional planning frameworks consider bushfire risk across multiple decades. This information is used to guide and develop yearly Fire Operations Plans that detail our current methods of reducing bushfire risk using a variety of fuel management methods for the next three years in each region. Importantly, outcomes from Fire Operations Plans feedback into future strategic planning.
Reducing Bushfire Risk Program
The Reducing Bushfire Risk program is a government initiative to further reduce the risk of bushfire in Victoria.
Forest Fire Management Victoria undertakes fuel management by planned burning, slashing and mulching to reduce the risk of bushfire on public land.
Fuel management reduces the spread and intensity of bushfires which makes suppression more achievable and safer. This helps reduce the impact on community and the environment.
This program will further reduce risk on public land by supporting early detection and rapid suppression of fires through upgrading fire towers, building new bridges and improving roads.
Importantly, better roads will increase firefighter and public safety, providing a safer platform for firefighters to prepare for and fight bushfires and easier evacuation for everyone.
The program will be implemented on public land throughout Victoria commencing in late 2017.
Fuel is any grass, leaf litter, twigs, bark and other live vegetation which can burn. Fuel builds up at different rates in different areas depending on how fast the vegetation grows compared to how fast it decomposes.
One of the major ways we manage bushfire risk in Victoria is to manage fuels.
Fuels are managed differently across different areas in Victoria. In areas close to towns, burns are more frequent to protect people and the things they value.
In other areas, burns can be managed to reduce the spread of bushfires across the landscape. The focus here is on maintaining and improving ecosystem resilience, as well as for fuel management. These areas are excluded from planned burning to protect areas that can’t tolerate fire.
Fuel management is conducted across four Fire Management Zones:
- Asset Protection Zone - Aim to reduce fuel through planned burning or other methods approximately every 5 to 7 years.
- Bushfire Moderation Zone - Aim to reduce fuel through planned burning or other methods approximately every 8 to 15 years. Length of time between planned burns in some areas can vary due to ecological considerations
- Landscape Management Zone - Planned burning will focus on maintaining and improving ecosystem resilience, and fuel management will also be undertaken for risk reduction.
- Prescribed Burning Exclusion Zone - No planned burning, mainly to protect particular areas that can’t tolerate fire.
The Fire Operations Plans outline a number of different methods we use to reduce the amount of fuel and bushfire risk in a landscape. Importantly, these methods vary between Fire Management Zones. Methods used include planned burning, slashing, mowing and clearing works, creating and maintaining fuel breaks and carrying out fire infrastructure maintenance (like fire dams and lookout towers).
There are four main types of planned burning:
- Fuel Reduction - to reduce fuel levels in a specified area
- Ecological – To achieve ecological objectives
- Regeneration Burn – To regenerate particular species or vegetation types
- Catchment Protection – To restrict the spread of bushfires in forested water catchments