Category Archives: Research into fire and our forests

Research into fire, biodiversity and our forests

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

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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?

Fieldwork:
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.

Muckleford Forest: Engaging with DELWP’s new program

The Victorian Government has initiated a major program to “modernise” the State’s Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) and the forest management system they accredit, through comprehensive engagement with Victorian communities. Read more here.

There are many views about the success or otherwise of the RFAs – but that’s for another post!

DELWP has identified a number of goals including: “Comprehensive engagement with Victorian communities about what they value in forests”, “A Vision for the future management of our forests” and “Refreshing forest management planning, including greater integration with fire planning”. All sounding worthy, but what will they mean in practice?

There is an online survey currently running to 31 March that enables you to mark on a map your favourite place and say why as well as answer a series of questions about forest management priorities and your vision. Please contribute!

Burning in the Muckleford killed trees and burnt out hollows

The other ways to get involved are:

  • Roundtables – there is a report on these Roundtables here – lots to read! was one held in our region (news to us if one was!).
  • Drop-ins – for the Loddon Mallee region the only one on their website is 23 Feb: Lancefield Farmers Market (perhaps there have been some elsewhere?)
  • Contact form to be kept in the DELWP information loop – contact form

Read more about what DELWP is doing in their Future of our Forests (RFA modernisation program) newsletter – here is the first one.

One of the processes that DELWP has underway is a state-wide program of data collection to inform renewal of the RFAs and improved management of Victoria’s forests. Interesting! One of the issues we are currently bemused about is that DELWP does not draw upon the Birdlife data for its own database … why not? We are following this up!

Please share this post and information. Hoping Muckleford friends can take the time to get involved – our forest really needs a positive vision and active conservation.

Muckleford Forest – a ‘KBA’ – a what?

Muckleford Forest is part of a KBA – a Key Biodiversity Area. This is an international designation! It used to be referred to as an IBA – an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area. But what’s in a name? We know the Muckleford Forest is part of a network of forest remnants across our goldfields Box-Ironbark region that are outstanding for woodland birds and many other species. They are also part of what Dja Dja Wurrung call ‘upside down country’ in their Country Plan – reflecting the impact of gold mining.

Our KBA is the Bendigo Box-Ironbark KBA and includes all the box-ironbark woodland remnants that are significant for Swift Parrots in the Bendigo region of central Victoria (as defined by Kennedy and Tzaros 2005) and includes the following remnants (with land-ownership status): Sandon (SF), Strangways (private), Lockwood (SF), Muckleford-Maldon (Muckleford NCR and Maldon SF), Shelbourne (NCR), Diamond Hill-Mandurang-Sedgwick (Bendigo NP, Mandurang SF, Diamond Hill HR, Spring Gully Reservoir and Sedgwick SF), Pilchers Bridge-Lyell (Pilchers Bridge NCR and Lyell SF), Whipstick (NP), Wellsford (Regional Park, Mt Sugarloaf NCR and SF) and Kamarooka (NP; the whole of Kamarooka forest is taken in its entirety for its population of Diamond Firetails and Purple-gaped Honeyeaters). Most of the IBA is within protected areas or state forests, with only small forest blocks on private land.

Our loose network – the Muckleford Forest Friends Group – having delivered ‘Talking Fire’ last year (have a look at the presentations, audios, photos at Talking Fire) is now planning for the first KBA Easter Health Check of the Muckleford Forest in 2018.

Broadly speaking our plan – as one of a number of KBA Guardians – is to select around 10 sites across the Muckleford Forest, and monitor them regularly throughout 2017/2018, so that when the Easter Health Check comes around in 2018, we are in a better position to make an informed assessment. We’ve got ideas for systematic recording, as well as those serendipitous encounters, and using this website and posts as a way of sharing. We’d also like to link in with anyone who is making observations in the Muckleford Forest.

We’d love you to get involved. Next step is some more planning with Tanya Loos from Connecting Country who is coordinating across this large KBA. So let us know what you are interested in – if you like planning and organisation, our next meeting is Tues 2 May – or if you’d like to put your hand up for a monitoring site or to propose a location you’ve already been monitoring – or for any other ideas – drop us a line to mucklefordffg@bigpond.com

 

Take 2 – Box-Ironbark Experimental Mosaic Burning Project

PBBIFApologies dear readers – the link on the last post to the report didn’t work – here is the correct link – https://mucklefordforest.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/box-ironbark-booklet.pdf

 

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Box-Ironbark Experimental Mosaic Burning Project

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The report is in from the project team who have been working on the Box-Ironbark Experimental Mosaic Burning Project – a collaborative project between La Trobe and Deakin Universities, DELWP and Parks Victoria. The aim of the project was to investigate the short-term ecological effects of planned burns in the Heathcote-Graytown-Rushworth forest. This project was a huge undertaking and has produced some very interesting results that will inform the use of fire as a management tool in box-ironbark forests.

Key findings have been summarised in a relatively short colour booklet. There is also a full report.  If you would like to receive a hard copy please contact Greg Holland: Research Fellow, Department of Ecology, Environment & Evolution, La Trobe University at Greg.Holland@latrobe.edu.au

The next challenge is to ensure that this work continues, and this is now with DELWP.