Australia — The Victorian Government has rejected a parliamentary committee’s call to triple the state’s annual controlled-burning target to 385,000ha.
Parliament’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee made the call in its inquiry into the Impact of Public Land Management Practices on Bushfires in Victoria about six months ago.
But Government dismissed the call stating it was moving away from hectare-based targets, “which may lead to inappropriate planned burning programs”.
“They do not account for differences in the effort required for small area asset protection burns (often around settlements) compared with larger scale mosaic burns in more remote areas,” the governemnt stated in its response.
The Government also ignored the ENR Committee’s call to pay half the cost of replacing or repairing burnt out fencing on the boundary between public and private land.
Nationals Member for Benalla, Bill Sykes, said he was dissapointed at the governemnt’s lack of commitment on funding its share of the fence replacement cost and the refusal to set hectare-based targets.
“The Government should lock in a target otherwise they’re left with too much wriggle room to move around and not allocate adequate resources,” Mr Sykes said.
However Environment Minister Gavin Jennings said hectare-based targets were not considered the best way of measuring the effectiveness of planned burning programs.
The Government will instead focus on patch-work or mosaic burns that create areas of burnt and unburnt vegetation.
Mr Jennings said mosaic burning provided positive fire protection and a better ecological result by breaking up age classes of vegetation and retained more habitat across a broad area.
“I have asked the Department of Sustainability and Environment to develop a plan to continue the expansion of large scale, mosaic burns and monitor their effectiveness,” he said.
The Government’s formal response is to the inquiry is available at http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/fire