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, where we can backburn ahead of an approaching bushfire.

Area treated by planned burning

The total area (in hectares) where we manage fuel by planned burning during the year. Most fuel management is planned burning — lighting and managing planned fires at times of lower bushfire risk, mainly in autumn and spring — to reduce leaf litter, twigs, bark and undergrowth. We classify planned burns into ecological burns, fuel-reduction burns and other burns. You can search our Planned Burns Victoria web page by postcode, locality, park or address to see planned burns 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

The burn window is the suitable alignment of appropriate fuel moisture and weather conditions. Appropriate fuel moisture conditions must align with suitable weather conditions before we can do planned burning safely and effectively. Weather is a key determinant of when and how much planned burning can occur.

Bushfire risk

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

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 to 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

Fire operations plans outlined where and when we intended to carry out fuel management activities on public land over the next three years. In 2018, fire operations plans were incorporated into the Joint Fuel Management Program (JFMP), by which FFMVic and the CFA jointly manage all operations across both private and public land.

Fuel management

Fuel management activities include:

  • 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 in the JFMP
  • chemical activities (such as by using herbicide) where identified in the JFMP
  • grazing by domestic stock (typically 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 it is identified in the JFMP
  • 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.

Growth stage structure

The vegetation growth stage structure (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 that characterises 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 a fire.

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

Joint Fuel Management Program (JFMP)

From the end of 2018, Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) and the Country Fire Authority (CFA) jointly managed operations under the Joint Fuel Management Program (JFMP), which covers all activity across both private and public land. Our Joint Fuel Management Program web page has maps showing all planned fuel management activities on public land to 2020–21.

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.

Planned burns

There are four types of planned burns:

  • fuel reduction burns, to reduce fuel levels
  • ecological burns, to achieve ecological objectives
  • regeneration burns, to regenerate particular species or vegetation types
  • catchment protection burns, to restrict the spread of bushfires in forested water catchments.

There is more information on the Planned burning in Victoria web page.

Safer Together

Safer Together is Victoria’s approach to reducing bushfire risk, focusing on how effective fuel management activities are, not just on the amount of activity we do. Safer Together is part of the government’s response to the review of performance targets for bushfire fuel management on public land. There is more information on our Safer Together website.

Strategic bushfire management plan

Each of Victoria's regions is preparing a strategic bushfire management plan. Each plan will explain the fuel management strategy and other actions we will undertake in the region 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 will explain how we will manage fuel in 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 TFIs between successive burns are dictated by the time required for key fire response species to mature and set seed, as well as their 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 proportion of vegetation on public land that is below minimum TFI, within TFI, above TFI or with no fire history.

The proportion of public land below minimum TFI is the percentage of land currently under the minimum time threshold recommended between successive burns for vegetation on that land. For example, if the 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 proportion of public land above maximum TFI is the percentage of land currently unburnt for a longer period than recommended. For example, if the vegetation on that land was burnt 35 years ago and its maximum TFI is 30 years, the land has been above the maximum TFI for five years.

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

The proportion of public land with no fire history is the percentage of land for which we have no record of fires, 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 potential damage to important ecosystems by major bushfires.

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

Page last updated: 23/12/20