Victorian forests are some of the most fire-prone areas in the world. Through bushfire management, we have the responsibility to reduce the risk to human life and property and to maintain or improve the resilience of natural ecosystems to fire.

Through the Victorian Bushfire Monitoring Program (VBMP), we monitor, evaluate and report on the effectiveness of bushfire management for achieving these objectives. In 2017-18, the VBMP commenced a statewide ecosystem resilience monitoring program to measure the effects of fire on biodiversity.

In partnership with La Trobe University, we developed an ecosystem resilience monitoring program to collect, analyse and interpret high quality data on how bushfires and fire management affect plants, animals and their habitat in the landscape. The ecosystem resilience monitoring program has two streams; a state-wide stream to address long-term relationships between biodiversity and fire regimes across the landscape, and a regional stream to assess fire events and address immediate to short-term effects of fuel management actions (primarily planned burning) on biodiversity and regionally important ecosystems, vegetation types, or species that may not covered by the state-wide stream.

The state-wide monitoring involves surveys of flora, habitat, birds and ground-dwelling mammals at sites with varied fire history; from recently burnt, to long unburnt. During 2017-18, biodiversity information was collected at 106 sites in grassy/heathy dry forest across western Victoria. Over the long-term, approximately 2200 sites will be established across Victoria, to ensure that our fire management caters for Victorian wildlife.

Photo of a Swamp Wallaby taken during the field pilot study for the ecosystem resilience monitoring program

During the 2018 surveys, a total of 220 plant species, 81 bird species, 27 mammal species, and four reptile species were detected. The mammal sightings included a brush-tailed phascogale, listed as vulnerable under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, in Lerderderg State Park where they haven’t been recorded since 2015 (Victorian Biodiversity Atlas).  The surveys provided core information on the availability of habitat features that are critical for fauna, such as coarse woody debris and hollow bearing trees. Understanding the effects of fire on these features and their locations in the landscape can help to trigger mitigation measures during planned burning operations to ensure that they are maintained and promoted in the landscape.

Data collected through the ecosystem resilience monitoring program will be used to evaluate and report on the effectiveness of bushfire management for maintaining resilient and biodiverse ecosystems. This will allow us to implement evidence-based decision making and adapt our management to improve bushfire management in Victoria for all communities.

Night time camera photo of Echidna

Page last updated: 17/10/18