THE Department of Sustainability and Environment has commenced its spring burning program with a series of small burns in Gippsland.
“Gippsland is a logical area for us to recommence burning because, unlike the rest of the state, it’s received about half its average rainfall for this time of the year, so the bush there is fairly dry,” said DSE’s Chief Fire Officer, Ewan Waller.
Mr Waller said after commencing in Gippsland the spring fuel reduction program would spread across the state’s public lands as the conditions improve and the bush dries out.
“Flood damage aside, the recent rain’s been wonderful for Victoria – especially for our farmers, the water catchments and the environment.
“But with the rain easing, it’s time to start ramping-up our burning program again.
“The Premier recently announced $382 million extra funding for us to lift our burning to 275,000 hectares a year over the next four years.
“We will then conduct a review of the impacts and effectiveness of the burning program and how best to proceed to the 385,000 hectare target in the following two years.
“We are reducing the build-up of fuel in our forests, to help protect all Victorians from the annual threat of more severe summer bushfires,” Mr Waller said.
Burns have been carried out in recent days aimed at protecting strategic assets and properties near Port Albert, Woodside, Glenmaggie and Clifton Creek.
Acting Fire Officer for South Gippsland, Peter Cramer, said that as soon as conditions are dry enough he will begin monitoring fuel moisture and looking at forecast weather conditions in the local area with a view to carrying out some spring burning in the bush around Foster.
He said that in the meantime local fire crews have been dispatched to the areas further east in Gippsland where it has been dry enough to carry out burns.
Using intelligence from the Bureau of Meteorology, DSE will consider expanding its fuel reduction burning program into other areas, such as Victoria’s desert country in the Mallee and northern Wimmera.
“We know that the smoke from these burns can be an inconvenience for people.
“I’m pleased to hear that across the state communities are really getting behind DSE and Parks Victoria and backing our plans to increasingly burn more, beginning this week in Gippsland.
“So we’ll be taking every opportunity to get these critical burns going while the conditions are good, and start reducing fuel loads before summer,” Mr Waller concluded.