Balancing fire safety with conservation

Balancing the value of the natural environment with the need to minimise bushfire risk is a vital concern for the Shire of Yarra Ranges. While residents value their scenic environment, the very factor that attracts people to the area, the bushland setting, is the same factor which could cost them property damage or even loss of life.

The development of a Fuel Reduction Plan by members of the Shire's Emergency Management Team goes a long way towards finding a balance. The Fire Reduction Plan was developed in consultation with local conservation groups and CFA Brigades.

It has multiple benefits. Apart from reducing fire risk while preserving the environment, it creates a partnership between Council and landowners.

"The model we have developed to balance the risk of fire with the preservation of the environment is one which has proved a model for the rest of the State," said Ian Gibb, Corporate Manager Planning and Environment.

Under the Plan, landowners are given the tools to assess and manage fire risk on their own properties. A step by step guide leads landowners to identify assets, including areas of significant vegetation.

They can then assess risk according to usage, prevailing wind direction, access and fire history. The Shire's Fire Prevention Officer is available to offer advice and assistance.

This Officer ultimately 'signs off' a plan of agreed management between Council and the landowner. The aim is to protect the area from fire while enabling important parts of local bushland to be maintained.

Landowners can then ascertain work needed to minimise risk without unnecessarily lowering environmental values.

For further information contact Ian Gibb, telephone 1300 368 333.