Loddon Mallee’s long-term bushfire risk regional planning target is 75%.
The figure below shows the Loddon Mallee region’s bushfire risk profile for the period 1980–2020 and projected changes in bushfire risk until 2023. It shows bushfire risk in the Loddon Mallee region:
- is 72% in 2019–20, an increase of seven percentage points from 65% at the end of 2018–19
- is projected to remain near 70% through to 2023 if the entire Joint Fuel Management Program (JFMP) is implemented but would continue to increase to a projected 78% by 2023 without any fuel management or bushfires. This action will keep bushfire risk levels below the long-term Loddon Mallee region planning target of 75%.
Priority areas for planned burning and mechanical fuel treatments include around the townships of Castlemaine, Macedon and south of Bendigo. Planned burning and mechanical treatments will continue in the larger forested areas of the Mallee, including the Big Desert and Murray Sunset to reduce the likelihood of large-scale bushfires.
Bushfire risk profile, Loddon Mallee Region, 1980–2023
The figure below shows the tolerable fire interval (TFI) status of vegetation on public land in the Loddon Mallee region since 1980. It shows that in 2019–20:
- the proportion of vegetation below minimum TFI was 27%, one percentage point less than in the previous reporting period
- the proportion of vegetation within TFI was 29%, one percentage point more than in the previous reporting period
- the proportion of vegetation above maximum TFI was 1%, no change from the previous reporting period.
In 2019–20, less than 1% of the vegetation was burnt by bushfires or planned burning while below TFI. This shows our bushfire management strategies are carefully considering and planning burns to reduce our impacts on vegetation below minimum TFI.
TFI status of vegetation on public land, Loddon Mallee region, 1980–2020
The figure below shows the growth stage structure (GSS) status of vegetation on public land in the Loddon Mallee region since 1980. It shows in 2019–20:
- the proportion of vegetation in the juvenile was about 3%, no change from the previous reporting period
- the proportion of vegetation in the adolescent growth stage was about 9%, a decline of one percentage point from the previous reporting period
- about 40% of the vegetation was in the mature growth stage, an increase of one percentage point from the previous reporting period
- the proportion in the old growth stage was about 2%, no significant change from the previous reporting period
- the area of vegetation with no recorded fire history on public land has gradually declined over the past decade and is currently about 43%.
GSS status of vegetation on public land, Loddon Mallee region, 1980–2020
Fuel management delivery
2019–20 was a highly successful year for fuel management in the region. Despite resource challenges from supporting responses to major bushfires in the east of Victoria and difficult weather conditions, staff across the region implemented a multi-method fuel management program to reduce bushfire risk to life and property and to support values important to our communities. Table 1 summarises the region’s fuel management activities in 2019–20.
Table 1: Fuel management activities, Loddon Mallee region, 2019–20
Area treated by planned burning:
Area treated by non-burn fuel treatments:
Total area treated to reduce bushfire risk
In 2019–20, burning around high-risk settlements including Taradale, Castlemaine, Elphinstone and in the Fryers Ranges provided the greatest risk reduction benefits in the region.
We prioritise burns in the highest-risk areas to maximise community safety. These are re-treated when fuel has accumulated again, by Traditional Owners for cultural outcomes, or in some cases to manage ecosystem resilience.
The continuing expansion of cultural burning was a highlight in 2019–20. Traditional Owners carried out six cultural burns on public land, and they have nominated 100 burns for the next JFMP.
During the year, we engaged with winegrowers in the Macedon Ranges to minimise the potential and perceived impacts of planned burning on the wine industry.
Around Castlemaine, we worked with community groups to ensure we conducted a fuel reduction burn in a way that protected the endangered Eltham copper butterfly population and the species’ critical habitat at the burn site. The burn was subject to a comprehensive monitoring program for the butterfly, and we will use the results including follow-up work to inform future fuel management to support the recovery of this species.
In the remote Mallee parks, fuel management focussed on a network of fuel-reduced corridors. These reduce the need for machinery (which can disturb sensitive vegetation) to access sites, and they also reduce the probability of landscape-scale fires that can cause much damage to communities and the environment. This work was complemented by more than 150 km of planned burning and mechanical fuel treatments along the public-private land interface, which reduced bushfire risk to dryland farming properties and communities. We also undertook extensive mechanical fuel treatments around Bendigo and in other parts of the region.
We further complemented our fuel management works by investing in forest road and infrastructure upgrades across the region to improve access for firefighters and in land management activities to reduce bushfire risk.
Page last updated: 25/11/20