Strategic burns to minimise fire risk

Nicole SalmeriSouth Western Times

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions is taking advantage of the spring conditions to undertake prescribed burning in areas across the South West.

Regional leader for fire management for the South West region Ryan Butler said a drier than usual winter has forced prescribed burning to get under way much earlier.

“Given the really dry winter we have had and the dry start to spring it’s looking like being a shorter season than normal unless we get a bit more moisture into the soil,” Mr Butler said.

“With the lower rainfall it has meant we had to start burning a little earlier – in the Blackwood district we had to do some burning in August which is unusual in the South West.

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“This also means because the soil is so dry, the moisture on the surface disappears a lot quicker and the fuel moisture is a lot drier so it makes it more difficult to maintain a controlled burn in really dry conditions.”

Mr Bulter said the team was doing more strategic burns while weather conditions were clear.

“A lot of the burns that are happening now are more targeted, smaller burns for risk reduction around settlements,” he said.

In April, the State Government committed $22 million to the Enhanced Prescribed Burning Program for the next four years, which is in addition to the department’s annual prescribed burning budget allocation of $11 million for the South West.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the government’s aim was to work together with local agencies to mitigate the risk of a big bushfire season.

“The McGowan Government is protecting the WA community from the damaging impacts of bushfires using a collaborative approach between government agencies, local government authorities and industry,” she said. “Our shared objective is to deliver the best possible community safety and biodiversity outcomes and I thank the community for their patience during this time.

“While every effort is made to minimise smoke impacts, people with conditions exacerbated by smoke should take precautions in line with their medical advice.”

The amount of land expected to be burnt across the South West is not yet determined but the season is expected to be complete by the end of the month.

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