Area treated by other fuel management methods

The total area (in hectares) where we manage fuel through activities other than by planned burning — such as mowing, slashing, mulching and using herbicides. We do this mostly to establish and maintain a network of strategic fuel breaks: these are strips of land with less fuel available to burn during a bushfire and where we can back burn ahead of an approaching bushfire.

Area treated by planned burning

The total area (in hectares) where we managed fuel through planned burning during the year. Most fuel management is by planned burning — lighting and managing planned fires at times of lower bushfire risk, mostly in autumn and spring — to reduce the quantity of leaf litter, twigs, bark and undergrowth. We classify planned burning into three categories: ecological burns, fuel-reduction burns and other burns. Our Planned burns for the next 10 days web page has a map of all the planned burns we intend to conduct over the next 10 days, weather permitting.

Burn plans

Each planned burn must have an approved burn plan, the requirements of which are specified in the Code of Practice for Bushfire Management on Public Land 2012. The plan includes the land management and burn objectives, the area of the burn, the type of fire management zone, how we will minimise impacts on particular values and how we will monitor and report achievement of the burn aims.

Burn window

Weather is one of the most important determinants of when and how much fuel management activity can occur. Appropriate fuel moisture conditions must align with suitable weather conditions before we can do planned burning safely and effectively. The burn window is the suitable alignment of appropriate fuel moisture and weather conditions.

Community-based bushfire management

Community-based bushfire management follows the community-based approach used by Emergency Management Victoria to support communities and agencies to better connect and make more informed decisions. It includes working with communities to identify local priorities, develop mutual goals and solutions, build relationships and use locally tailored processes before, during and after a bushfire.

Ecological burns

These are planned burns to maintain and improve ecological resilience and help regenerate forests.

Ecosystem resilience

This is the capacity of an area to absorb natural and management-imposed disturbance but still retain its basic structure — the abundance and composition of its species, the function of its vegetation and its types of vegetation — over time.

Fire management zones

For fuel management purposes, Victoria is classified into four fire management zones:

  • Asset Protection Zone (APZ): an area around properties and infrastructure where we intensively manage fuel to provide localised protection to reduce radiant heat and ember attack on life and property in the event of a bushfire
  • Bushfire Moderation Zone (BMZ): an area around properties and infrastructure where we manage fuel to reduce the speed and intensity of bushfires and to protect nearby assets, particularly from ember attack in the event of a bushfire
  • Landscape Management Zone (LMZ): an area where we manage fuel to minimise the impact of major bushfires, to improve ecosystem resilience and for other purposes (such as to regenerate forests and protect water catchments)
  • Planned Burning Exclusion Zone (PBEZ): an area where we try to avoid planned burning, mainly because ecological assets in this zone cannot tolerate fire.

Fire operations plans (FOPs)

Fire operations plans (FOPs) outline where and when we intend to carry out fuel management activities on public land over the next three years. Our Approved fire operations plan web page has an interactive map showing all planned fuel management activities on public land for the period of 2017 to 2020.

From the end of 2018, FFMVic and CFA will jointly manage operations under a Joint Fire Management Plan (JFMP) – covering all activity across both private and public land.

Fuel management

Fuel management activities include:

  • Fire (including planned burning — lighting and managing planned fires on prepared sites at times of the year when bushfire risk is lower — and bushfires where they occur in areas pre-planned for fuel management).
  • Mechanical activities (such as mowing, slashing and mulching) where identified on a current FOP
  • chemical activities (such as by using herbicide) where identified on a current FOP.
  • Grazing by domestic stock (typically by cattle or sheep), but it can only be accounted for as a fuel management activity if it is specifically undertaken to manage bushfire fuel (by reducing and/or compacting the vegetation, most commonly grasses) and is identified on a current FOP.
  • Other fuel management activities approved by the Secretary of DELWP.

Fuel-reduction burns

These are planned burns to reduce the amount of fuel available to a bushfire, which can reduce its intensity and rate of spread and so improve opportunities for firefighters to suppress it.

Geometric mean abundance (GMA)

This is the relative abundance of all known species within a particular ecosystem. It provides a measure of the biodiversity of an ecosystem, which is a good indicator of resilience. We use it along with GSS. Geometric mean abundance also allows us to consider the impact of different fire regimes on particular threatened species.

Growth stage structure (GSS)

The vegetation GSS of an area is its mix of vegetation of different ages, from juvenile to old. Vegetation's GSS depends on when it was last burnt or otherwise disturbed. We assume that a diversity of GSSs and habitats across a landscape ensures a diversity of species, which helps maintain and improve ecosystem resilience. We manage fuel to ensure there is an acceptable mix of growth stages in the landscape, and to protect important areas of older growth stages.

The growth stages we use are:

  • Juvenile: from immediate post-fire renewal to establishment, including when species are reproductive.
  • Adolescent: when the vegetation is relatively young and all species are reproductive but not at the rate characterising mature vegetation.
  • Mature: including when the dominant species are fully reproductive through to stasis, when vegetation structure and reproductive capacity stabilise.
  • Old: when reproduction of the dominant species is declining and propagule banks are decreasing; if left undisturbed, vegetation may become senescent and is then unlikely to be reconstituted after fire.

There is more information about vegetation GSS on our Healthy environments web page.

Joint Fire Management Plan (JFMP)

From the end of 2018, FFMVic and CFA will jointly manage operations under a Joint Fire Management Plan (JFMP) – covering all activity across both private and public land.

Other burns

These are mainly regeneration burns after timber harvesting and the burning of slash piles and residues. We do many regeneration and slash pile burns each year but they contribute only a very small area to the total area treated by planned burning.

Residual risk

This is the amount of bushfire risk which remains after bushfires and fuel management activities reduce fuel. Our Understanding risk web page explains bushfire risk in more detail, and it  explains how DELWP uses Phoenix RapidFire bushfire simulation software to model bushfire risk.

Safer Together

Safer Together is Victoria’s approach to reducing the risks of bushfires. It focusses on how effective fuel management activities are, not just the amount of activity undertaken. Safer Together is part of the Government’s response to the review of performance targets for bushfire fuel management on publica land. More information is available on our Safer Together web page.

Strategic bushfire management plan

Each of Victoria's regions has a strategic bushfire management plan. Each plan explains the fuel management strategy and other actions we will undertake in that landscape to minimise the impact of major bushfires on people, property, infrastructure and economic activity and how we will maintain and improve the resilience of natural ecosystems. The plans explain how fuel will be managed within each fire management zone — APZ, BMZ, LMZ and PBEZ — on public land, using planned burning and other fuel management activities.

Tolerable fire interval (TFI)

For any given plant community, the minimum and maximum tolerable fire interval (TFI) between successive burns is dictated by the time required for key fire response species to mature and set seed, as well as its time to extinction without fire disturbance. TFI thresholds provide minimum and maximum time intervals of fire frequency to ensure ecosystem resilience.

TFI status is reported as the percentage of vegetation on public land that is below minimum TFI, within TFI, above TFI or with no fire history.

The percentage of public land below minimum TFI is the amount currently under the minimum time threshold than what is recommended between successive burns for vegetation on that land. For example, if a recommended minimum TFI is 15 years for a given vegetation and it was last burnt 10 years ago the land is below the minimum TFI and will continue to be for another five years.

The percentage of public land above maximum TFI is the amount that remained unburnt longer than what was recommended. If a community was burnt 10 years ago and the maximum TFI is 30 years, it should be burnt again in 20 or more years.

The percentage of public land within TFI is the amount that is currently recorded as being within the recommended minimum and maximum TFIs.

The percentage of public land with no fire history is the amount in which no identifiable record of fires was found, or if the land’s vegetation does not have a recommended TFI.

The larger the areas in a landscape below minimum TFI and above maximum TFI, the less resilient ecosystems are likely to be. Burning regularly below minimum TFI increases the risk of fundamental changes in the structure and functioning of the vegetation. However, we sometimes decide to burn in particular areas below minimum TFI to manage bushfire risk to life and property and to reduce the potential damage to important ecosystems by major bushfires.

There is more information about TFI on our Healthy environments web page.

Page last updated: 31/10/18