Australia — A series of strategically located prescribed burns have been key factors in preventing five recent bushfires from having a significant impact on Perth communities.
Environment Minister Bill Marmion said it had been a busy start to the bushfire season and the Department of Environment and Conservations (DEC) prescribed burning program had already helped stop several bushfires from spreading to nearby homes or developing into major bushfires.
DECs ongoing effort to reduce fuel loads through planned burning over the years has assisted fire crews in controlling bushfires and significantly reducing impact on the people of Western Australia, Mr Marmion said.
As a recent example, the John Forrest National Park fire in early November threatened communities in Parkerville and Hovea, but when the fire ran into a prescribed burn carried out earlier this year, it stopped in its tracks.
Similarly, the impact of fires in Gooseberry Hill, Carabooda, Pickering Brook and Jarrahdale in the past month was minimised due to the strategic placement of prescribed burns in these areas.
The Minister said the objective of the burns was to reduce the potential size and intensity of bushfires and to minimise damage to people, infrastructure and nearby private properties.
Prescribed burns also have the objective of protecting, maintaining and enhancing conservation values and ecological processes in WAs forests, parks and reserves, he said.
Prescribed burning in John Forrest National Park in particular is extremely difficult due to rough terrain and the potential for smoke to impact on the metropolitan area.
However, when a burn was carried out in the park last autumn, DEC managed to create a good mosaic of burnt and unburnt patches with minimal smoke impact on Perth.
Mr Marmion said that consequences of recent fires across Perth could have been much more severe if the prescribed burning program had not been undertaken.
Without these burns, vegetation, wildlife, surrounding communities and orchardists could have been devastated by the fires, he said.
Last season, DEC exceeded its annual prescribed burning target of 200,000ha for the South-West forest regions due to favourable weather conditions. It was the first time in five years this target had been achieved.
The Minister also praised the Fire and Emergency Services Authority, Forest Products Commission, volunteer bushfire brigades, WA Police, Water Corporation, Western Power, Salvation Army, State Emergency Service, Main Roads, Telstra and local contractors who also assisted with the recent fires.