TFS bushfire-ready program stokes community interest

TFS bushfire-ready program stokes community interest

08 November 2016

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Australia —   COMMUNITIES are preparing for the fire season ahead by signing up to a Tasmania Fire Service bushfire-ready program.

Almost two dozen communities are participating in the Bushfire Ready Neighbourhoods program.

TFS chief officer Chris Arnol said 22 communities across the state had been selected for the program based on bushfire risk, community connectedness, capacity and community protection planning priorities.

He said TFS support for communities already signed up to the program under the first round would also continue.

“In the first two years of implementation, the program worked intensively with 16 core communities statewide, as well as supporting dozens more,” Mr Arnol said.

Mr Arnol said independent research had found households in communities which undertook the program were significantly more prepared for the bushfire season.

“Through this program, community members have completed bushfire survival plans and have engaged in community development activities to build resilience and undertake mitigation,” he said.

“In addition, when threatened by bushfire, they have demonstrated that they are prepared to take appropriate action safely.”

On average, those who participated in the program had completed five more preparedness activities in 2016 than at the baseline in 2014.

“As we’re coming into the warmer months, now is the time for communities to be thinking about how they can work together to be prepared for the bushfire season,” Mr Arnol.

“We encourage all communities in Tasmania to know your bushfire risk and make a plan. Bushfire readiness is a shared responsibility and requires effort from individuals, communities and the TFS.”

New Bushfire-Ready Neighbourhoods

South: Nicholls Rivulet, Campania/Native Corners, Dolphin Sands, Sandford/South Arm, Magra, New Norfolk area, Maydena, Tasman Peninsula, (Eaglehawk Neck, Koonya, Nubeena and Taranna).

North: Cape Barren Island, Upper Scamander, Stieglitz, Fingal, Derby, Bellingham, Greens Beach/Kelso, Jackeys March, Rowella/Kayena/Sidmouth.

North West: Squeaking Point, Sisters Beach, West Coast (focus on Zeehan), Cowrie Point to Rocky Cape area, King Island.

Government has urged Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers who are deployed to guard Viphya Plantation against destruction to be vigilant by dealing with the perpetrators accordingly.Msaka (left) walking in the plantantion

Msaka (left) walking in the plantantion

Minister of Mines, Energy and Natural Resources, Bright Msaka, made the statement Tuesday after touring the plantation, especially areas under the jurisdiction of Total Land Care and Raiply Malawi Limited.

Incidences of fire destroying numerous hectares of trees every year have been a never-ending song for the Viphya Plantation for over a decade now. The plantation is shared by two districts of Mzimba andNkhata Bay.

However, the issue has raged on in spite of efforts by government and its stakeholders to plant trees and guard them against destruction. Reports have indicated that more often, the fires that destroy the plantation are deliberately set rather than accidental.

The minister said government is aware that some disgruntled workers and individuals whose licences were cancelled are the ones setting fires in the plantation.

“People need to know that this is a national asset, so if the department of forestry has denied somebody a licence for the reasons best known by the department, they are supposed to understand instead of setting fires,” he said.

To mitigate the challenge, Msaka said government deployed MDF soldiers in protected forests across the country as a way of scaring people from destroying the plantations.

In spite of the effort, some people are still setting parts of the Viphya Forest on fire, regardless of the size of trees.

“We have directed the Malawi Defence Force solders to deal with anyone setting bush fires and operating in the forest without licences and that the law will take its course [against them],” he warned.

However, Msaka commended Raiply Malawi Limited and Total Land Care for utilizing the forest sustainably and adding value to the trees from the forest.

“In the past, we have been cutting trees or sawing and selling them abroad at a very cheap price. We behaved like a prodigal son who squandered all what his father gave him.

“We need to be very careful and be proud of what we inherited so that we can benefit from it and pass on those benefits to the next generation,” advised the minister.

Earlier, Chief Executive Officer of Raiply Malawi Limited, Thomas Oomen, cited bush fires and encroachment as major challenges facing his company.

“This year alone, we have lost about 526 hectares [of trees] to bush fires, unfortunately, most of  these trees are below 15 years old but they are supposed to be harvested at the age of 25. This is dooming our future,” said Oomen.

Chikangawa Forest consists of seven plantations comprising 53,000 hectares.

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