Environment groups in East Gippsland are imploring DELWP and its Minister to immediately apply more environmental considerations to its planned burns. The old hectare based burns have been acknowledged as financially costly, with minimal safety outcomes but significant ecological losses.
“If this is the new improved risk-based approach, then there is no difference to the old method. This region can’t afford to have another 115,000ha of habitat and wildlife put through more deliberate fire”, said Jill Redwood of Environment East Gippsland. “Why does Lisa Neville’s Department persist with this costly placebo?”
The government review of the 5% burn target showed that environmental impacts of planned burns are damaging the environment, while protection benefits are minimal.
“To add insult to this environment al injury, there is minimal useful outcomes for protecting life and property which was assessed as 13/48 for effectiveness (page 17 Appendix 4).
Just three examples of damaging planned burns are the Horseshoe Bend/Bald Hills burns in the Mitchell River NP, the Marlo Bushland Reserve and the Tubbut-Cameron Track burn.
“The Tubbut burn is through an area which escaped the 2014 fires and is now a refuge for that area’s wildlife”, said Jill Redwood. “There have been no surveys to document what survives there”.
“The Marlo Bushland Reserve is not a fire threat to the town but this significant swampland is home to a rich array of frogs, Golden Whistlers, Scrub Wrens, Rufus Fantails, Superb Blue Wrens, Wonga Pigeons, Whip Birds, Long-nosed Bandicoots, Southern Brown Bandicoots, possums and skinks. DELWP has also not carried out surveys to document any of these values it plans to burn”.
Robyn Grant from Gippsland Environment Group believes burning in national parks and reserves reduces their natural values.
“Mitchell River has a UNESCO listing for its biodiversity and habitat, which includes rainforests and threatened species like Dunnarts, Gliders, Quolls and forest owls. The states biodiversity data base is up to 20 years out of date and no recent surveys have been done in this area. They are burning blind.”
Deddick landowner Kevin Parker is appalled by the pre-burn destruction of trees by the department and is concerned that there is no consideration given to wildlife and biodiversity.
“Having driven down the Dellicknora road recently I was shocked at the extent of forest damage. Felling up to 1,000 trees onto the forest floor hardly seems like the first step in fuel reduction to me.
Observation from past planned fires indicates they promote growth of wattles, dogwood and burgan, a much denser supply of fuel than previously existed.”
“The 2009 Royal Commission stated the most effective protection of life and property is carried out within 100 metres of buildings; beyond this it is a waste of resources”, said Jill Redwood. “The lack of science and evidence being used by Lisa Neville’s Department is costing both the tax payer and our environment. It’s a costly way to provide the community with a false sense of security.”