articles of interest
Below are some articles of interest to members and non-members of the TFGA:
Planned Burning Pilot Project
The Planned Burning Pilot Project, which has been running since April 2012 and is scheduled to be completed by November 2013, has developed a range of tools and strategies to assist Tasmanian private landholders with fire management, including the safe and effective use of planned burning.
The first stage of the project involved a survey of landholder attitudes to and experience with planned burning. Over 80 landholders from across the state participated in the survey, giving a broad range of opinions and perspectives. Key findings from the survey include:
- There is a marked difference in involvement with Tasmanian Fire Service (TFS) depending on farm size (500 ha) – over 50% of large landholders are actively involved as a member of TFS, while only 18% of small landholders are.
- Respondents have a reasonable understanding of bushfire risk, and are aware that they are responsible for managing the risk of fire on their own land.
- Burning is used as a tool for various purposes on farms.
- There was a strong focus on burning by the calendar (ie time of year), rather than on physical environmental triggers which may make it suitable or not for burning.
- The major barriers that limit the extent to which landholders undertake planned burns are (in order of priority):
- Risk of fire escapes
- Potential liability from fire escapes
- Access to good weather/forecast information
- Labour to manage the burn
- Equipment to safely manage the burn
The results from the survey assisted the project team in the development of a range of practical tools for both wildfire management and planned burning on private land. A group of 10 pilot farmers based in north east Tasmania and the northern midlands then worked with the project team to test the tools that had been developed. These tools included property-based fire management plans, training workshops, risk assessment, a monitoring template and a technical manual on planned burning. Burns were conducted on some of the pilot farmer properties, and these have been written up as case studies. The burns were also used as practical training for the pilot farmers to reinforce the theory learnt at the workshops.
Where threatened species were known to occur in areas planned for burning, the fire management plans were submitted to DPIPWE (Threatened Species Unit) for approval, so that a permit to destroy could be issued. Once obtained, the threatened species permits are issued for the life of the fire management plan and only need an annual renewal. Where covenants occur in areas proposed for burning permission must be obtained from the Minister, through DPIPWE (Private Land Conservation Process). Permission is again issued for the life of the plan.
Some of the key learnings from the project include:
- Putting in the ground work before the burn is essential to getting good outcomes (consideration of impacts on neighbours and notifying neighbours, preparation of fire breaks, coordinating the resources (labour and equipment needed), etc).
- Private landholders are more likely to be able to manage fires which are lit so that they self-extinguish, rather than require active suppression. This can be achieved by watching forecasts for suitable weather systems, and carefully managing burn parameters.
- Do not have all burn parameters (wind speed, humidity, fuel moisture, fuel hazard) at extreme values. If they are all too low (e.g. max. moisture and humidity, min. wind speed and fuel hazard) then the burn is unlikely to sustain; if all are too high (e.g. min. moisture and humidity, max. wind speed and fuel hazard) then the burn is likely to burn with too high an intensity and be too hard to control.
- Log heaps require ongoing monitoring and management (e.g. turning) to ensure that they are completely extinguished. Log heaps burnt in spring can be a cause of fire escapes the following summer but this problem can be minimised by burning in autumn or winter and then subsequently turning the heaps to ensure they fully burn out.
- Working through a lighting plan, TFS permit burn plan and risk assessment before lighting the burn assists in highlighting flaws in the plan and enables risks to be managed for.
- Registering a burn by contacting TFS on 1800 000 699 (inside or outside the fire permit season) means that the likelihood of unnecessary brigade callouts is reduced.