Old forests less flammable: new research

New research reported in The Conversation (23.3.2022) demonstrates that hazard-reduction burning (‘planned burns’) can make forests more flammable. It found that over time, some forests ‘thin’ themselves and become less likely to burn. Hazard-reduction burning – referred to as ‘planned burns’ in Victoria – disrupts this process. The article also briefly compares traditional Indigenous burning to these large-scale hazard reduction burns.

The research examined forests in south-western Australia where hazard-reduction burns are very frequent.

Here’s a link to the article.

Glenluce: a rare local example of an older forest

Fire for Healthy Country: Djandak Wi

Interested in learning how can fire help us create healthy Country? What kind of fire? Used when, how and by whom?

Head over to the Talking Fire website to find out more about the latest project and upcoming workshops.

Talking Fire is partnering with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation to create opportunities for our community to deepen and transform our understanding of how to care for our local landscape. Djaara knowledge and experience will be shared through a practical experience of using fire as a way of caring for Country.

Together we want to enhance biodiversity, build community awareness and confidence in the use of fire, support new land holder skills, address community safety, and support Djaara in increasing their capacity to apply Djandak Wi to public and private land. A big agenda!

The project will be structured around three on-Country workshops – the first workshop is 14 August. Head over to Talking Fire to find out more.

To get updates, follow the Talking Fire website (talkingfire.org), Talking Fire on Facebook, or drop us a line at newsteadtalkingfire@gmail.com.

Supported by the Wettenhall Environment Trust as a pilot in their Burning Country initiative

Share this:

Community action counts

Its been amazing over the last couple of years to see our local communities come together to document birds in the Muckleford Forest.

Other communities are doing courageous things in the face of fire – so I thought I’d share this one from some communities in northern NSW – the Mt Nardi community fire defenders – community and firies working hand in hand.

Woman wearing a white firefighter's hat holding a flow chart for organising volunteers

PHOTO Siddha Farm community organiser Nicole Raward used a flowchart to help keep volunteers safe as they worked to contain the Mt Nardi fire.

Hope everyone who follows this blog has a happy and safe festive season … and don’t forgot those bird surveys!


Phase 2 consultation – what did people want?

You might like to read this summary from the Phase 2 consultation that demonstrates that people across Victoria – and importantly in our region – want a ‘whole of landscape’ approach – or in the jargon ‘tenure blind’ and that means taking action where it counts most – that might be a cool burn (‘good fire’) in the forest, or asking a private landowner to graze down a ‘firebreak’ next to a precious ecological remnant, or in a multitude of other ways that e can now start to explore.

Read here – or look for the links when you do the bushfire management survey on the Engage Victoria website.

Managing our landscapes with fire? Add your voice NOW!

The Vic Government is asking for your view on the Loddon Mallee plan for ‘bushfire management’. But I’d rather ask: How should we use fire as a tool to help manage our landscapes for all of the things we value – ecology, people, productivity, safety, culture, aesthetics, recreation?’

The online consultation closes on Monday 12 August and it’s an important opportunity to contribute. Here is the link to the survey.

There are some great steps towards ‘good fire’ in the plan – for example: burn when its needed because of risk and fuel levels, not by an ‘every 5 years’ type of schedule; think ‘whole of landscape’ when working out where fire or other land management actions can help keep people and towns safe – this might mean reducing fuel loads on public land, on private land or both; designate areas with high ecological values and treat them differently.

Traditional Aboriginal burning – today. (Photo Julie Millowick)

This new plan looks like a step forward on the right path, and it would be great to get a heap more responses in before the online consultation closes on Monday

Stephen Pyne in Castlemaine Thurs 8/8

Fryerstown CFA are sponsoring an evening with Stephen Pyne in Castlemaine – Thursday 8 August – 6.30-8.30. See below: Bookings Facebook/FryerstownCFA or phone Lesley on 5473 4363

So if you can’t get to the events as part of the Bendigo Writers Festival or via La Trobe Uni events, maybe you can get to this one. And I would welcome one of the Muckleford Forest blog readers writing up a short piece for the blog on his Castlemaine talk and the kinds of questions and discussion points that arise.

Hear Stephen Pyne in August – Bendigo and Melbourne

Over the next few weeks you can hear Stephen Pyne – US historian and fire policy analyst – speak at a number of events – in Bendigo and Melbourne.

I heard Stephen speak last year. He brings an extraordinary perspective on the history of the development of fire policies in the USA, and in parallel here in Australia. His analysis points to the many failures in these policies – in the past and today.

Here are the five opportunities to hear him, in date order!

Living with Fire: Tues 6 August, 9.30am-2pm,
La Trobe University City Campus Level 20, 360 Collins St, Melbourne.

Bookings essential – Eventbrite ($40/$20 concession)

Humans have been living with fire in the landscape for millennia. However, different groups within society (e.g. indigenous people, urban and rural residents, scientists, govt land management agencies and politicians) can have quite different views on the place of fire in the landscape. Many climatologists predict that the frequency, severity and extent of bushfires will increase under most future climate change scenarios.

La Trobe University’s Centre for the Study of the Inland and its Research Centre for Future Landscapes are bringing people together to discuss constructive ways of valuing different cultural perspectives on living with fire, to address this growing challenge in a sustainable and holistic manner.

With the renowned Professor Stephen Pyne (Arizona State University) delivering the keynote address, followed by presentations from Lee Miezis (Deputy Secretary, Forest, Fire and Regions DELWP, Professor Dick Williams (Charles Darwin University, formerly with CSIRO, Dr Tim Neale (Deakin Uni, ) and Trent Nelson (Parks Vic) and ending with a panel discussion with all the presenters, this will be a seminar not to be missed. Includes morning tea and lunch.

Fire’s American Century:
Wed 7 August, 6-8pm, Melbourne Museum Theatrette.
Bookings essential – Eventbrite – Free

Renowned environmental historian, Professor Stephen Pyne, is the speaker for the 2019 Bernard Bailyn Lecture in North American History. Stephen Pyne will outline how the American fire scene and national policies have evolved from the late 19th century to the early 21st. No-one has written more extensively on fire than Stephen Pyne. And it isn’t only American fires that have piqued his curiosity over the years.

Fire People: Chloe Hooper, Stephen Pyne, Sian Gard
Friday 9 August, 3.15-4.15, Bendigo Bank Theatre
Bendigo Writers Festival: Day or Festival Pass holders only

There are those who light them and those who fight them. Beyond headlines about the ever-increasing danger of fire, the devastation of a firestorm, and the losses that follow, from out of the communities affected come the stories about what happened and how it makes them feel. Stephen Pyne and Chloe Hooper talk to Sian Gard about the way fire changes lives, and about finding ways to describe those experiences. Can writing get close to conveying both the fire and the people whose lives are marked indelibly by it?

Saturday 10 August, 1.15-2.15pm, Capital Theatre
Bendigo Writers Festival: Day or Festival Pass holders only
What do we know about the places we live, the bush, the towns by the side of bitumen and dirt, the people who live and work beyond the city cluster? It’s through the curiosity and patient effort of writers who make the journeys and spend time asking the questions that we come to understand the country and people’s place in it. Paul Barclay is joined by three “fieldwork” writers – Gabrielle Chan, Kim Mahood and Stephen Pyne – to ask about where they go, how they travel, what they take with them and what they bring back.

Planning for the Pyrocene: Stephen Pyne and Tom Griffiths
Sunday 11 August, 3.00-4.00pm, Strategem Studio
Bendigo Writers Festival: Ticket for this event

Here we are, in 2019, and it seems we have no idea how to manage fire in our combustible landscape. Does controlled burning help or hinder? What have we learnt from the devastating deadly fires of recent years? Stephen J Pyne has written many books on fire management, including A Fire History of Australia and Fire on Earth. Following the Californian fires of 2018, he has written about the new age we are now entering, calling it the “pyrocene”. Stephen talks with Tom Griffiths about how communities can plan with confidence by understanding their environments and how they are changing.

Objecting to Kalamazoo’s proposed Exploration Licence

Muckleford Forest Friend Group have decided to object to application for an Exploration Licence (EL) for the Muckleford Forest. We posted briefly on it on the Muckleford Forest website a few days ago.

Remnants of past mining in the Muckleford Forest

We are objecting because we are concerned about the potential adverse environmental, residential and economic impacts, and loss of amenity for residents.

Our objection may make no difference – but we wanted to make our views known at this early stage in the process and make sure that we are advised of the outcome and (assuming they get the EL) that we are consulted when they develop a Work Plan for exploration activities etc.

Our objection is linked here

We would encourage others to object as well. You can write a short submission – a few sentences for example, or write something more detailed and attach it. Lodge your objection here – https://rram.force.com/ObjectionSubmission

And of course you can draw on or refer to our objection. The deadline for your objection is Friday May 17th (21 days after the advert – assuming you saw the advert in a local paper Tarrangower Times or the Age or Herald-Sun!). Here is a link to an article in the Maryborough Advertiser and to the Bendigo Advertiser as well.

Information on Exploration Licences is here – https://earthresources.vic.gov.au/community-and-land-use/understanding-exploration

We’ll update you via this website when we hear more.

Gold exploration across the Muckleford?

A gold exploration application has been lodged across a large area include the Muckleford Forest – and private land as well. The application has been approved according to the Kalamazoo web site. A bit hard to get the status clear via the government’s Earth Resources website – as you will see below it appears to be an ‘application’ but it appears from Kalamazoo website and media that it has been approved.


You can search mining tenements on this webpage – Mining Licences Near Me – and here is the image of the Kalamazoo application (Exploration Licence
EL006959) based on my address in Green Gully.

Should we worry? That’s a hard question! It depends on what they might plan to do within the Exploration Licence area: that is, their ‘work plan’. And whether locals read the classifieds in the local paper and or The Age or the Sun Herald.

Here is the web page about objecting to an Exploration Licence – website (http://earthresources.vic.gov.au/earth-resources-regulation/Contact-us/objections).

Seems like a watching brief – let us know if you notice anything – in the media or on the ground!



Health Checking our Key Biodiversity Areas: 12 April 2019

(shared from Connecting Country)

BirdLife International has identified areas of conservation importance around the world as Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs). This includes KBAs right here in our region – the Bendigo Box Ironbark area. Our KBAs were designated especially for their importance for two special birds, Diamond Firetail and Swift Parrot, and cover both public and private land.

Our three KBAs in the Mount Alexander Shire (VIC) are:

  • Clydesdale-Strangways.
  • Sandon-Strathlea.
  • Muckleford-Newstead – our Muckleford Forest Friends Group bird survey areas!

Birdlife’s Easter health check takes an annual snapshot of the threat and conservation actions of the areas that matter most to birds. BirdLife compares results between KBAs across Australia and around the globe. The results are extremely valuable, especially for identifying species decline and targeting conservation work. For more information on the KBA and the Easter health check process click here.

BirdLife is looking for local people to complete a 2019 Easter health check for each KBA. To assist, Connecting Country is running a workshop on Friday 12 April 2019 in Newstead.  We’ve invited Greg Turner from BirdLife Victoria to take us through the process for our part of the Bendigo Box Ironbark area. Geoff Nevill from the Muckleford Forest Friends Group will also talk about his group’s work in the region.

This annual check is all about assessing habitat and its threats. Anyone with an interest in landscape restoration is most welcome to come along and get involved, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced birdwatcher.

Volunteers Eleanor and Jenny surveying the Muckleford KBA (photo by Connecting Country)

Please come along to this workshop to learn how you can participate in the Easter Health Check for our local KBAs:

  • Learn about the KBA’s in the Mount Alexander Shire.
  • Find out about KBA Easter Health Check – what it is and how to do it.
  • Meet other people working with KBAs.

Where: Newstead Community Centre Mechanics Hall, 9 Lyons St, Newstead VIC

When: Friday 12 April 2019: 9.00 to 11.30 am

Bookings: Please click here

This is a free event, with morning tea and refreshments provided.

If you have any questions, please contact Ivan Carter at Connecting Country on (03) 5472 1594 or ivan@connectingcountry.org.au.

This event is supported by funding from the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.