More than 31,000ha treated in the Gippsland planned burns program

The Forest Fire Management Victoria Macalister fire district in central Gippsland has recently concluded its autumn planned burn program. Photo: Contributed

THE nature of bushfire in Victoria is changing, trending towards hotter, drier conditions for longer periods of time.
Living in Victoria means living with fire, and planned burning is an important fuel management tool in reducing bushfire risk to communities and the environment.
As part of Forest Fire Management Victoria’s strategic approach to fuel management, regional FFMVic staff have delivered a number of key asset protection burns around communities under the state-wide Joint Fuel Management Program.
The FFMVic Macalister fire district covers about 1.8 million hectares of private and public land, stretching from Port Albert up through the Alpine National Park, south of Mount Hotham.
The Macalister district has treated 9124ha across 14 prescribed burns since January, including high priority burns that had to be postponed because of weather for nearly 10 years.
The many communities and the people that call this district home are no strangers to fire.
High risk communities such as Loch Sport, Briagolong and Dargo were the focus of several strategic burns conducted by the Macalister crew.
These communities are now better prepared and protected from the threat of bushfires in the years ahead.
Macalister district manager Stuart Beales commended staff from all levels across the district and region in carrying out the high interest burns during the past few months.
“Our FFMVic staff have really gone above and beyond, not only in the planning and implementation of 14 planned burns across the Macalister district, but how they engaged and worked with communities in the delivery of these burns,” he said.
Mr Beales said some of the burns had been “in the planning process” for nearly 10 years.
“We’ve received incredible feedback from local community members who have wanted these works to be completed for some years now.
“It really is a highlight for me to see how well our team works together with Traditional Owners and partner agencies including Parks Victoria, Country Fire Authority, Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation and VicForests.
“When it comes to protecting and responding to communities and the environment – we work as one.”
Mr Beales said FFMVic worked year-round to plan, prepare and carry out the region’s fuel management program.
“Before a single drip torch is lit, a burn must go through rigorous ecological and cultural heritage check from our expert staff,” explained.
“Thanks to the hard work of our crews, 31,699 hectares of land was treated across Gippsland between January and May, protecting communities, homes, lives and the environment from future bushfires.
“The men and women that make up FFMVic truly are our greatest asset, spending their summers in service to their communities and the environment.
“They are your friends, your neighbours, you see them down at the supermarket, they live in your community, they call Gippsland their home.”
For more about FFMVic’s planned burning program visit ffm.vic.gov.au/bushfire-fuel-and-risk-management/planned-burning-in-victoria