In 2019–20, the Victorian Bushfire Monitoring Program continued to deliver the monitoring program set out in Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Framework for Bushfire Management on Public Land. This included monitoring fuel levels and ecosystem resilience. Program data allows us to determine how effectively planned burning reduces fuel and to evaluate our progress reducing bushfire risk.
Fuel hazard monitoring
Overall fuel hazard monitoring provides important information about burns including the severity and coverage of a burn, how it has reduced fuel hazard, success against ecological burn objectives where appropriate and if follow-up actions are required. It is important to note that burn objectives are set to achieve a balance between fuel reduction and preserving important values. For example, a burn objective may be set to achieve 70 per cent burn coverage within the footprint of a planned burn to ensure that sufficient refugia, habitat and food sources are left to enable flora and fauna to persist.
When conducting the evaluation of a planned burn a series of plots are inspected. Some of fuel hazard assessment sites may fall in areas that are intentionally left unburnt to provide refuges for animals in a planned burn area. Table 1 shows the overall fuel hazard monitoring effort for 2019–20.
Table 1: Fuel hazard sites monitored, 2019–20
Barwon South West
Ecosystem resilience monitoring
Below shows the ecosystem resilience monitoring and related activities we undertook in each region. Monitoring was mostly of the before-and-after impacts of planned burning on issues of local significance.
- Development of a training package to train Traditional Owners and FFMVic staff in the region to deliver core ecological monitoring including habitat assessments and remote camera monitoring
- Partnering with Deakin University to trial artificial refuges to support small mammal persistence after fires
- Mapping of Glossy black cockatoo habitat: identifying stands of Black she-oak is important to ensure that habitat in state forest is protected from mechanical disturbance and fire during planned burns
- Remote camera monitoring of New Holland mouse populations to find out how the species responds to fire regime characteristics (such as the patchiness, severity and temporal arrangement of fire); this knowledge will help support fire planning and decision-making about the species
- Greater glider monitoring to determine key habitat attributes relating to foraging and denning requirements, to improve management of the species
- Brush-tailed phascogale trapping and monitoring, to monitor planned burning impacts on the species and its habitat: the findings will help us develop and refine mitigation measures for the species
- Resurveying the Wombat Forest fire effects study area sites: surveying started in the 1980s to further knowledge about how Shrubby Foothill Forest responds to repeated low-intensity burning; initially, this will include remeasuring composition and structure of the flora, habitat attributes and fuel hazard
- Furthering our knowledge of the distribution of Greater gliders across the region, to help improve habitat distribution models and more efficiently plan pre- and post-burn monitoring
- Complementing overall fuel hazard assessments with habitat condition assessments to develop a baseline dataset to explore the emerging narrative that forests in poor condition burn harder and are less resilient
- Conducting a monitoring program for the Eltham copper butterfly, crucial to delivering key fuel reduction burns in a way that protects the endangered population and the species’ critical habitat at the burn site; results of follow-up monitoring will inform how to deliver fuel management to support the recovery of this species
- Monitoring the presence and key habitat attributes of the Greater glider population in areas planned for burning; monitoring before and after planned burning allows us to check that our mitigation measures work, and it improves processes, practices and outcomes for habitat protection and foraging sites in areas treated by planned burning
- Continuing work with researchers to improve knowledge about how Hairpin banksia responds to fire severity and fire interval; Hairpin banksia is a key fire response species, and we can use it to inform the timing of planned burns for ecological outcomes
In 2019–20, we continued to deliver our statewide ecosystem resilience monitoring program in partnership with the Bushfire Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre and a number of research agencies. This work builds on a La Trobe University project to design a monitoring strategy and methods to measure the effects of fuel management and bushfires on ecosystem resilience.
The statewide ecosystem resilience monitoring program will collect data about flora, habitat, birds and mammals in 11 priority ecosystems across Victoria. Data collection is currently underway in three of the ecosystems. Recent analysis of the data collected through a 2018 pilot project showed that the time since fire and the fire interval had mostly small effects on the occurrence and abundance of species and habitat features. This suggests that fire regimes in this ecosystem are maintaining the resilience of the ecosystem, but further analysis is needed. Analysis of the data from the ecosystems will continue over the next few years, as the data becomes available.
Page last updated: 28/10/20