Australia– Thesuccessful protection of threatened communities by fire fighters has been partially overshadowed by the fire damage to world heritage areas, an independent report into the 2016 bushfires has found. In action: The TFS helicopter in action in January waterbombing a section of the large bushfire at Cradle Mountain. Picture: Brodie Weeding.
In action: The TFS helicopter in action in January waterbombing a section of the large bushfire at Cradle Mountain. Picture: Brodie Weeding.
Threats to communities received limited coverage in the 2016 bush fire season despite success of operations, according to the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council review.
Released on Saturday the report covered the response of Emergency services, Parks and Wildlife and Forestry Tasmania to the 2016 fires.
Key recommendations include the need to streamline the states fire control systems, a review of the effectiveness of aerial fire fighting and the need to engage with community groups with an interest in fire management in wilderness areas.
Much of the report focused on environmental issues associated with the fire fighting effort.
The report assessed the protection of World Heritage areas, the role of climate change in the unprecedented dry season and how land management can be achieved more effectively.
The report also attempted to measured the ultimate success of firefighting efforts and highlighted the protection of Tasmanian towns.
Although the threat to communities had limited prominence, it was still a feature, particularly in the early days of the fires, the report stated.
The Tasmanian fire agencies appear to us to have appropriately prioritised the protection of communities and the extensive work that went into controlling fires on the West Coast in the region of Zeehan and Strahan has not always received the recognition it deserves.
Recognising the successful protection of threatened and at risk communities in the West Coast, Meander Valley and Mawbanna region is crucial in assessing the overall success of the campaign the report found.
At times when looking at the public commentary that the focus on damage that has occurred in wilderness areas may have eclipsed to some extent the success of operations to defend communities in the early stages of this event.
The Wilderness Society said the review confirmed that there was a bungle in the fire fighting effort to protect World Heritage areas.
Greens Senator Nick McKim welcomed the review and said the government should adopt all of the recommendations within the report.