AUSTRALIA – High-value state forests will receive greater protection following the Queensland Government’s $455,000 investment in cameras to detect wildfires in south-west Queensland.
The initiative is jointly funded by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF).
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch, who is responsible for national parks in Queensland, said seven remotely-operated cameras have been installed in the wildfire-prone forests west of Toowoomba to improve fire detection and response times.
“This is the first time the Queensland Government has used cameras to protect native forests,” Ms Enoch said.
“Historically, fire towers have been used to monitor these areas, however, modern technology provides us with better fire detection options.”
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development Mark Furner said the network is being installed in forests that contain high-value white cypress pine.
“The cypress pine is a big part of Queensland’s native timber industry, which generates significant employment in regional areas,” Mr Furner said.
“Unfortunately, cypress is very sensitive to fire, and even moderate burns can destroy regenerating or mature trees.
“With Queensland timber in high demand and DAF contracted to supply wood to the timber industry, these improved methods of detection are a smart investment for our state.”
Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Craig Crawford said, “Saving minutes in detecting, getting to and suppressing a wildfire can be the difference between life and death, and minor damage or millions of dollars in lost resources.”
The cameras are being set up on poles 20-to-40 metres above the ground and will send live vision to QPWS rangers and DAF staff in Toowoomba and Dalby, who will monitor the areas during high fire-danger periods.
It is expected the rollout will be completed by the end of February 2018.