Tag Archives: Biodiversity and planned burning

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

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



Box-Ironbark Experimental Mosaic Burning Project


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.

Updates, meetings and a grant!

EBox-Ironbark Research – Community Presentation

Presented by La Trobe University and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Listen to the outcomes of the final report on the impacts of large mosaic burns on Box Ironbark ecosystems in the Heathcote/Greytown area.

 Tuesday 24 May 2016, Bendigo Town Hall, Hargreaves Street, Bendigo, 7.30pm (follows DELWP Fire Planning Open House). For more information click here for the Box Ironbark Landscape Mosaic Burning Project Invite.

Share your knowledge on fire planning

Join Forest Fire Management staff to discuss the strategic plans which outline the frequency and location of planned burns, the three year schedule of burns and the mulching and grooming activities planned for Central Victoria at one of our two open house events. For more information click here for the Flyer for FOP Open House 2016.

Bendigo Open House
When: Tuesday 24 May 2016
Where: Bendigo Town Hall, Hargreaves Street, Bendigo
Time: 2pm and 7pm- Drop in any time to discuss fire planning
Followed at 7.30pm by the Box-Ironbark Landscape Mosaic Burning Project community presentation

Castlemaine Open House
Wednesday 1 June 2016
Where: Ray Bradfield Rooms, Frederick St, Castlemaine
Time: 2pm and 7pm- Drop in any time to discuss fire planning.


Understanding fire in our landscape: a community conversation

Our Muckleford Forest Friends group, auspiced by Maldon Urban Landcare (MULGA), has achieved a grant from the Mount Alexander Shire to run a community conversation to explore fire in the Newstead-Maldon landscape. Supported by community and external experts, participants will learn about fire risk, local fire history, values, ecology and environmental history of the our area, and contribute to community-based approaches to landscape management for biodiversity and human safety. Thanks to those who supported our application: MULGA, Newstead and Muckleford Landcare, Newstead 2021, Connecting Country, the Coordinator, Conservation and Land Management Bendigo TAFE, the CFA and the Newstead CFA brigade and by a number of key individuals. More soon as we start planning the project, hoping those who read this blog will want to get involved.


Birds in the Muckleford Forest

For some more positive news about birds and partnerships in the Muckleford – watch this space!

It’s that time again!

Before the burn: Demo Track west side

Input into the next FOP

It’s time to make input into the next round of Fire Operations Plans (FOPs) – the 2015/16-2017/18 Plan.

The draft Plan will be released on 1 August and can be viewed at http://www.delwp.vic.gov.au/burns.

There will be an Open House consultation session on Tuesday 11 August 3pm-7pm where anyone can attend and talk to a DELWP officer about the FOP. Location: DELWP office on the corner of the Midland Hwy and Taylor Street Epsom. An Open House means a drop-in session; usually there are no presentations, and you can go along and talk to a DELWP officer one-on-one. Sometimes an Open House session has different topic tables set up so that you have the chance to talk to different officers about a each particular topic. Not sure how this one will work!

If you don’t want to go along you can submit comments in writing on the FOP, or on particular burns. You can address comments to: loddonmallee.plannedburning@delwp.vic.gov.au

Other Updates

Over the last few months, Muckleford Forest Friends have had a number of contacts with DELWP and correspondence from the Minister. In summary:

3 July – Paul Bates (District Manager, Murray Goldfields District) advised: “Further to our past discussions, Donkey Farm Track has been taken off the fire operations plan. This is because of community feedback combined with the work being undertaken by the risk landscape team providing for a reduced planning target for Murray Goldfields District. As stated below, the IGEM report and government response may result in further changes in the future, we will wait and see.”

1 July – Lee Miezis (Executive Director, Fire and Emergency Management) wrote regarding our submission on behalf of the Muckleford Forest Friends Network to the Inspector-General for Emergency Management’s (IGEM) recent review of performance targets for bushfire fuel management on public land. He advised that the IGEM report recommended a risk-based target as the most effective way to drive delivery of the bushfire fuel management program on public land. The report also makes recommendations for the Victorian Government on:

  •  Transition to a risk target.
  • Continued development of smoke prediction and monitoring     capabilities.
  • Performance measures for community engagement activities.
  • Refinement of estimates of risk-reduction costs.
  • Public reporting on bushfire risk and ecosystem resilience.
  • The future review of risk-based performance measurement.

The IGEM report is available at: www.delwp.vic.gov.au/news-and-announcements/igem-review-into-bushfire-fuel-management

Lee advised that “the Government is now formulating its response to the report, and will consider community views as part of its decision” and invited any further comments on the recommendations, to:              fuel.management@delwp.vic.gov.au

OR to Fire & Emergency Management Division, PO Box 500, East Melbourne, Victoria 3002

BY  24 July 2015 so that it can be considered in formulating advice to to Government.

25 June – Andrew Koren (Program Manager, Planned Burning and Roading, Loddon Mallee Region) advised that our previous submissions are still considered current and applicable to the 2015/16-2017/18 Loddon Mallee Region FOP.

Second response from Minister Neville: we received a second reply from the Minister dated 28.4.2015 which addressed some of the matters in our submission to her – here is her reply and here is the link to our submission. We were critical about the initial reply from her as it failed to address the substantive issues we had raised.

Minister fails to answer – so let’s go walking tomorrow!

The Minister responds

We have heard back from Minister Lisa Neville. What we got was a standard letter that focuses on the review by the Inspector-General for Emergency Management Victoria on performance targets for future fuel management program on public land. We know it’s a standard letter because we’ve seen the response to others who have also sought a moratorium on this seasons burns where there are significant biodiversity issues – like Donkey Farm Track and in fact much of the Muckleford and adjoining forests.

To quote Minister Neville: ‘We’re not pre-empting the results of the review, so planned burns scheduled for 2014-15 are still current’.

But our submission highlighted issues with a currently planned burn where we believe that the government is flying close to the wind in relation to state legislation. You’d think she might have at least mentioned our submission and the issues raised – even to reject our arguments.

We’ll be writing again to the Minister and to our local member of Parliament Maree Edwards to ask for a response to the substantive matters raised. And we are seeking a meeting with our regional DELWP officers to continue to advocate for the Donkey Farm Track area and to get their response to our submission.

But let’s enjoy the forest!

This Sunday, 19th April 2015 – tomorrow – there will be a bush walk in Muckleford. The walk is part of the Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests bushwalking program. We will walk through areas of interest like the firewood collection area and Dunns Reef. It’s a good 5-6km, with some uphill trekking, but fairly easy.

If you want to come on the walk, meet at the Continuing Education building in Templeton Street at 9.30am to car pool. Otherwise, meet at the Red, White and Blue Poppet Head mine in the Muckleford State Forest. Bring water bottle, snacks and lunch. We will be finished by 1pm. For any queries, call Neville Cooper on 0401 319 659.

The Dunns Reef area is scheduled for a burn in Autumn 2016. The Fire Operations Plan designates 257.6ha (CAS 011) to be burnt for fuel reduction defining the objective as “to provide an irregular mosaic of areas of fuel reduction which will complement works in adjacent fire management zones and can assist in ecological resilience and forest regeneration’. The way in which ecological resilience will be achieved by these burns has never been explained by DELWP (or its predecessor organisations DEPI, DSE etc). We don’t know which areas DELWP intends to ‘treat’ but they did put a sketch plan on the table a couple of years ago. There are also some designated Special Protection Areas within the Dunns Reef area, it adjoins the Muckleford Conservation Reserve and appears to be part of the Phascogale (Tuan) Priority Area (like the Donkey Farm Track area) based on Phascogale surveys conducted over many years by the Department.



If you were a tuan, would you vote for burning?

The Maldon Historic Reserve is a Tuan (Brush-tailed Phascogale) Priority Area. Tuans use hollows in the base of trees if there are no higher hollows – and there are very few in this area. Tuans are listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, so our government has a responsibility to protect this species.

For years the Victorian Environment Department (under many different names) has conducted regular surveys of Tuan in the Muckleford Forest, with one transect following the western edge of this proposed burn. The department’s data tells us that this area is a stronghold for Tuan.

Brush-tailed Phascogale - or Tuan (Image:  www.bird.net.au)

Brush-tailed Phascogale – or Tuan (Image:

So how do you protect Tuan when you have to burn a patch of beautiful forest to meet an unjustifiable target?

The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act Action Statement for this species indicates that there is a limited understanding of the impact of fire on Brush-Tailed Phascogale populations and its critical habitat. A recommended action is to encourage research into the effect of different fire regimes on Brush-Tailed Phascogale populations. Has any such research has been undertaken? What are the results?

From a 2013 DSE document (now DELWP), the “burn” prescriptions for Brush-tailed Phascogale are:

  • Muckleford Priority Area – no burning (The Brush-tailed Phascogale Priority Management Area covers the Muckleford NCR and the Maldon Historic Reserve and includes the CAS 010 burn area)

And for other places where there are records of the Brush-tailed Phascogale:

  • Implement a mosaic burn coverage of 20-30%
  • Protect hollow-bearing trees and stumps (coppiced trees) by rakehoe line
  • No direct ignition of large woody debris.

Of course, not only the Tuans will be impacted if this burn goes ahead – read our letter and submission to the new Minister for the Environment Lisa Neville and you will start to appreciate how our living Box-Ironbark forests are being degraded with each and every burn.

The new Victorian government might be reviewing the target, but right now they are still burning. Please say no to any more of this destructive burning.


No longer a safe hollow
No longer a safe hollow