Bushfire risk

Grampians’ long-term bushfire risk regional planning target is 70 per cent.

The figure below shows the Grampians region’s bushfire risk profile for 1980–2021 and projected changes in bushfire risk until 2024. It shows bushfire risk in the Grampians region:

  • was 75 per cent in 2020–21, the same as projected and at the end of 2019–20[1]
  • has increased since 2015, unfortunately as decreased weather windows have resulted in limited opportunities for planned burning
  • is projected to fall to 60 per cent by 2024 if we implement the entire Joint Fuel Management Program and there are no major bushfires, noting it would increase to 81 per cent by 2024 without any fuel management activity or major bushfires. Implementing the entire program would keep bushfire risk levels below the long-term Grampians region planning target of 70 per cent.

Priority areas for planned burning and mechanical fuel management included the forested areas between Ballarat, Castlemaine, Macedon, and Bacchus Marsh. We will continue to use mechanical fuel treatments in the difficult gullies and fingers of forest in and around Hepburn Springs and Daylesford. We continue to return planned burning into the Grampians National Park to create a mosaic of fuels and reduce the likelihood of large-scale fires.

[1] The reported projected bushfire risk for 2020-21 without treatment is a rounded figure of 75%, the calculated residual risk for 2020-21 was a rounded figure of 75%. Unrounded figures show an impact from planned burning of a 0.474 percentage point reduction in risk. The actual residual risk was 74.995% and the projection without treatment was 75.469%

Bushfire risk profile, Grampians Region, 1980–2024

Ecosystem resilience

The figure below shows the tolerable fire interval (TFI) status of vegetation on public land in the Grampians region since 1980. It shows that in 2020–21:

  • about 45 per cent of the vegetation was below minimum TFI, about 23 per cent was within TFI and 2 per cent was above maximum TFI, which was a small improvement from the previous reporting period
  • the proportion of vegetation with no fire history remained the same at 29 per cent.

In 2020–21, less than 1 per cent of the vegetation burnt by bushfire or planned burning was below TFI, the result of careful planning to minimise the potential impacts of planned burns on vegetation below minimum TFI.

Much of the landscape may remain below minimum TFI as areas regenerate after the major bushfire events before 2015 and transition to older growth stages. The figure below shows this as an increase in the proportion of the vegetation below minimum TFI from 35 per cent to about 50 per cent between 2004–15. It coincides with major bushfires in the Grampians in 2006, 2013, and 2014, as well as in the region's west in 2006 and 2012.

TFI status of vegetation on public land, Grampians region 1980–2021

The figure below shows the growth stage structure (GSS) status of vegetation on public land in the Grampians region since 1980.

It shows:

  • there was no significant change in 2020–21 from the previous year with about 27 per cent of the landscape in the juvenile and adolescent growth stages, and about 39 per cent was in the mature and old growth stages
  • the impact of major bushfires over the past two decades, which show as an increase in the proportion of vegetation in the juvenile and adolescent growth stages from about 20 per cent to about 44 per cent between 2004–15- in the past five years some of this vegetation has started to transition to older growth stages
  • the proportion of vegetation with no fire history also remained the same at 29 per cent.

GSS status of vegetation on public land, Grampians region 1980–2021

Fuel management delivery

The Grampians region had a successful year in 2020–21 despite COVID-19 restrictions continuing to challenge staff undertaking planned burning and fire suppression activities. Table 1 summarises the region’s fuel management activities in 2020–21.

Table 1: Fuel management activities, Grampians region, 2020–21

Fuel reduction

No. of treatments


Area treated by planned burning:

  • ecological burns: 5,292 hectares (10 burns)
  • fuel reduction burns: 10,492 hectares (40 burns)
  • other burns: 30 hectares (9 burns)


Area treated by non-burn fuel treatments:

  • mechanical mulching: 280 hectares (13 treatments)
  • mechanical slashing or mowing: 3,190 hectares (320 treatments)
  • other methods: 0 hectares (0 treatments)


Total area treated to reduce bushfire risk



Seasonal conditions were also unpredictable. The state’s two largest bushfires for the year burnt over 4,000 hectares in the Little Desert National Park in mid-November 2020. Significantly, suppression efforts in one of these (the Pump Jack Track bushfire) were assisted by planned burning completed in 2019. In early December, FFMVic staff assisted with the responses to a tornado which damaged properties in Horsham, and to a major storm on 9 and 10 June 2021 which damaged large areas of the Wombat State Forest.

Despite these challenges, the region completed a successful planned burning program, treating 15,814 hectares, with ignitions in every month except December. Our mechanical fuel treatment program continued to expand, with 280 hectares of mulching works focused on high-bushfire-risk areas. We also continued to work with the Country Fire Authority and private landholders, and we completed two cross-tenure burns with their assistance.

FFMVic also continued to build partnerships with Traditional Owners across the region. There is a range of experience and ways that each group wants to participate in cultural burning and land management. The region looks forward to supporting each group in a way that they find meaningful.

Monitoring threatened species and vegetation communities is an important part of our work to understand how our planned burning affects the environment. The results of longer-term monitoring of Brush-tailed phascogale in the Hepburn area were a highlight of 2020–21. Surveys indicate that the measures we use for habitat protection at each burn are successful and that burning has not had measurable effects on the local population. We will continue this monitoring.

Page last updated: 23/12/21