The Howitt Society has launched a parliamentary e-petition calling on the Andrews Government to increase its annual bushfire fuel reduction targets.
The petition comes after the Andrews Government turned its back on the Bushfire Royal Commission targets which recommended a minimum five percent of public land undergo prescribed fuel reduction burning to minimise the devastation of bushfire in Victoria.
The e-petition is sponsored by Shadow Assistant Minister for Public Land Use and The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath.
The Howitt Society is Victorian based and has a membership of experienced land and fire managers, scientists, foresters, anthropologists, historians, past and current stakeholders who all share a mutual passion for caring for country.
Ms Bath said the Andrews Government’s has consistently failed to meet its own low fuel reduction targets.
“The Andrews Government policy narrowly focuses on prevention of loss of life and asset and fails to recognise the importance of undertaking preventative fuel reduction burns in our forested areas and around our regional communities,” said Ms Bath.
“Bushfire mitigation and suppression starts before the first spark falls on the forest floor – it is proactive landscape management
“The 2020 East Gippsland bushfires were evidence that the Andrews Government’s policy and approach to bushfire mitigation is not working as fuel loads were too high.
“Using the cooler months to carry out fuel reduction is absolutely necessity– we cannot allow the incredible volume of undergrowth on the forest floor to fuel mega bushfires.
“You can have all the aircraft and technology to detect and fight bushfire, but if the Andrews Government continues to allow fuel loads to build up, suppression efforts will be ineffective.
“It’s well known – the greater the fuel load, the hotter and more intense the fire.
“Nothing survives an uncontrollable high intensity bushfire, powered by a build-up of fuel on the forest floor.”
Ms Bath said fuel reduction does not aim is not to stop bushfire altogether, it’s about shifting our focus to manage less intense bushfires – which is why the Howitt Society is calling for a minimum of five percent fuel reduction burns.
“Fire is a natural phenomenon in our Australian landscape and our ecosystems have evolved with fire, many of our native species need fire to regenerate.
“Cool burns including those practiced by traditional owners actively heal country, and do not destroy it,” said Ms Bath.
“By managing fuel loads, bushfires can be more easily suppressed and the recovery of our landscape, wildlife and communities is significantly enhanced.
“I am encouraging our community to support the Howitt Society and add their name to the petition calling for an increase in bushfire fuel reduction targets.”
The parliament e-petition can be signed online https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/council/petitions/electronic-petitions/view-e-petitions/details/12/459