The design and delivery of Forest Fire Management Victoria’s fuel management program are set up to meet the primary objectives for bushfire management on public land in the Code of Practice for Bushfire Management on Public Land 2012:

  1. To   minimise the impact of major bushfires on human life, communities,   essential and community infrastructure, industries, the economy and the   environment. Human life will be afforded priority over all other   considerations.
  2. To maintain or improve the resilience of   natural ecosystems and their ability to deliver services such as   biodiversity, water, carbon storage and forest products.

Our approach to fuel management on public land

Victoria is one of the most bushfire-prone areas in the world. In past decades, Victorians have seen the disastrous effects bushfires can have on communities.

Under the Forests Act 1958 and in line with the Code of Practice for Bushfire Management on Public Land 2012, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is responsible for managing bushfire risk on public land in Victoria. DELWP manage bushfire risk in accordance with the code’s two primary objectives:

  • To minimise the impact of major bushfires on human life, communities, essential and community infrastructure, industries, the economy and the environment: human life will be afforded priority over all other considerations, and
  • To maintain or improve the resilience of natural ecosystems and their ability to deliver services such as biodiversity, water, carbon storage and forest products.

To do this, DELWP works with many organisations and individuals including other Victorian Government departments, local governments, emergency management services, environmental organisations, water corporations and industry bodies, and with Traditional Owners through land management partnerships, to manage bushfire risk across public land on behalf of all Victorians.

Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic), or ‘we’ in this report, represent the partnership arrangements that DELWP draws on to manage bushfire risk on public land. This partnership includes DELWP, Parks Victoria, VicForests and Melbourne Water.

Bushfires burn on both private and public land, and our modelling reflects this. However, FFMVic’s fuel management activities to reduce bushfire risk only occur on public land. Managing bushfire risk is an ongoing and shared responsibility, and everyone has a role. That's why fuel management on public land needs to be integrated with the management of private land, as well as other management strategies to reduce bushfire risk.

Safer Together is our approach to reducing the risks of bushfire in Victoria. It combines all agencies and stronger community partnerships with the latest science and technology to more effectively target our actions.

Fuel management is just one strategy for reducing bushfire risk. It includes planned burning (lighting and managing planned fires in the landscape) and mechanical fuel and other non-burn fuel treatments (mowing, slashing, mulching and using herbicides).

FFMVic and partner agencies undertake joint planning at the strategic and operational levels to inform the fuel management program. Each of our six regions has bushfire management strategies to guide their fuel management activities, while the Joint Fuel Management Program (JFMP) sets out the prioritised annual schedule of fuel reduction works: planned burning, slashing, mowing and clearing. The strategies also specify fire management zoning of public land: zoning is the key driver of the JFMP.

For fuel management purposes, bushfire management strategies for each region use fire management zoning as a tool to implement local bushfire management objectives on public land in Victoria. Each fire management zone has its own intended fuel treatment aims and associated performance measures, although multiple goals can be achieved when undertaking activities in a given zone. There are four types of fire management zone defined in the code:

  • Asset Protection Zone (APZ): using intensive fuel treatment, the APZ aims to provide the highest level of localised protection to human life and property and key community assets. The goal of fuel treatment in an APZ is to reduce radiant heat and ember attack in the event of a bushfire. Fuel treatment will be carried out in the APZ through a combination of planned burning and other methods (such as mowing, slashing or vegetation removal).
  • Bushfire Moderation Zone (BMZ): this zone aims to reduce the speed and intensity of bushfires. This zone complements the APZ in that the use of planned burning in the BMZ is designed to protect nearby assets, particularly from ember spotting during a bushfire. Where practicable, the BMZ will aim to achieve ecological outcomes by seeking to manage for ecologically desirable fire regimes, provided bushfire protection objectives can still be met. This may include using other fuel management methods.
  • Landscape Management Zone (LMZ): within this zone, planned burning will be used for three broad aims: bushfire protection outcomes by reducing the overall fuel and bushfire hazard in the landscape; ecological resilience through appropriate fire regimes; and management of the land for particular values including forest regeneration and protection of water catchments at a landscape level. Other fuel reduction methods will be used within this zone as appropriate.
  • Planned Burning Exclusion Zone (PBEZ): this zone excludes the use of planned burning, primarily in areas where the vegetation is intolerant to fire.

A fireighter observes a planned burnForest Fire Management Victoria staff conduct planned burning to manage fuels

Reporting scale

This report uses two scales, statewide and regional, to report fuel management delivery and outcomes. We conduct modelling of outcomes at the statewide scale and to develop regional risk profiles and targets. We carry out bushfire management planning and deliver on-ground activity (such as fuel management including planned burning) at the regional scale. Each region comprises two or more fire districts. We translate our risk reduction targets to hectare targets for delivery purposes across the regions. The Joint Fuel Management Program translates our risk targets into hectare-based activity targets.

Data and model output improvements

FFMVic uses the best-available models and data each year to calculate the metrics presented in the fuel management report. We may update past metrics (such as bushfire risk or reported costs) as our technology improves, better data becomes available, our research program provides new knowledge or mapping accuracy improves. For example, improvements to our mapping of fire footprints may mean our bushfire risk measure has been recalculated, or improvements to the way we capture the activities related to fuel management and non-fuel management expenditure may change our cost estimates from year to year. These specific changes can be seen on the data and model output improvements page. We continually work to improve the data and science behind our decisions, and we expect to regularly make updates in light of these improvements. Comparisons between this report and past and future reports should be made in that light. For the most accurate view of current and historic figures, you should always consult the most recent fuel management report.

Page last updated: 18/12/20