Biodiversity publications archive

Biodiversity and Fire: The effects and effectiveness of fire management

Proceedings of the conference held 8-9 October 1994, Footscray, Melbourne
Biodiversity Series, Paper No. 8

Biodiversity Unit
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, 1996

Appendix 1: Results of follow up workshop

At the workshop held after the "Biodiversity and Fire" conference a number of key issues and future needs were identified.

1. Ongoing and needed research

There was recognition of a requirement for continued and new research. This should include research into air quality and fire management (greenhouse effect), fuel dynamics in a range of ecosystems and ecological aspects. It was pointed out that plant or animal communities which urgently need more research must be identified.

There should also be improved analysis of the effectiveness of fire management practices, from both an ecological and fire protection point of view, and increased research, monitoring, and collection of data to assist in this.

It was suggested that post-graduate fire studies should be encouraged to assist the achievement of research.

2. Seek sustained research funds

Continued funding for long-term research was felt to be essential as this was far more useful than short-term, limited research. It was suggested that funding should be sought from the business community to assist. A general increase in the resources of state government agencies responsible for fire management was considered important, not only for research but for all aspects of fire management.

3. Improve data management

Data management should be enhanced by integration and improvement of data bases. To assist this all state and federal agencies should move into GIS to record data, where this is not already occurring. Planning procedures should be developed from this to locate fuel reduction works more strategically.

4. Improved access to information regularly

Regular exchange of information, especially research results, was agreed to be essential. This could be achieved by frequent meetings between those involved in fire research and management, and, where possible, members of the public, and by organising conferences on a regular basis. Establishment of a network between researchers and managers to ensure new information is utilised was considered vital

6. Develop ecological fire management strategies

It was suggested that ecologically sound fire management could be improved by producing a burning mosaic in time and space, varying periods between prescribed burns (for any one area) and identifying suitable fire regimes based on particular sites and needs.

More fire management plans based on ecological communities should be produced similar to the East Gippsland heathlands fire management plan. It was also suggested that guidelines for ecologically cautious fire management should be produced.

7. Encourage community and organisation communication

It was recognised that better communication between organisations and throughout the community in general was important and could be achieved in a number of ways; by clarifying the language/terminology to better convey meanings, by making an effort to improve communication between fire management agencies and community groups, and by promoting local government involvement in fire management. Roadside management is an area where communication between local government is an area where communication between local government, government agencies and the public is essential, and management plans for roadsides must be encouraged.

8. Encourage flexibility in planning

Flexibility rather than rigidity was felt to be important in planning. There should be clear mechanisms to facilitate change in fire management for ecological reasons. "Reverse planning" (bottom driven) should be encouraged to ensure effects detected in the field by on-ground staff as a result of practical management experience are readily taken into account. Emphasis should be moved from simply fire prevention/protection to what is needed for particular areas, and it should be recognised that fire must be included in broader sustainable development practices.

9. Refinement of Techniques

Suggestions were made for refinements in fire management techniques. This included strategic strip burning instead of large scale burning and including better quality in planning for prescribed burning. It was felt a better understanding was needed of how to use fire as a management tool in Victoria.

10. On-going and improved training

Training of both staff and the public was considered crucial including improved training for fire management staff.