The state government’s autumn program of prescribed burns has begun, taking advantage of the mild weather conditions experienced over summer.
Areas of both public and private land have been strategically chosen across the state to help manage the intensity and extent of bushfires across the landscape and provide safer access for fire fighters.
A total of 61 burns are planned for this autumn following on from a successful spring 2020 program where 47 burns were completed. An increase in the burn program numbers in the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges and Kangaroo Island regions has been facilitated by additional funding resulting from recommendations of the independent review undertaken following the 2019/20 bushfires.
The prescribed burns are carried out by the Department for Environment and Water (DEW), in partnership with the Country Fire Service (CFS) and SA Water.
Fiona Gill, Director of Fire Management with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, said that one of the first burns on the program will be providing protection to critical infrastructure in Cherry Gardens.
“We understand that the sight and smell of smoke will be concerning for some residents so soon after the recent bushfire, but want to reassure the community that this will be a highly planned and carefully managed operation with the overall aim of making the area safer,” she said.
“Other burns that were originally planned in Scott Creek Conservation Park and Mount Bold Reservoir will no longer take place due to the bushfire impacting in these areas.
“Mild conditions during summer have also led to an overlap of unharvested wine grapes and suitable prescribed burning conditions.
“The State Government will continue working cooperatively with industry groups to address any concerns.
“The number of prescribed burns that can be safely and effectively completed in any season is always subject to a window of specific weather conditions and we will never burn unless we can achieve a safe outcome.
“They are part of an ongoing, rolling three-year program of bushfire mitigation and extra burns are planned to allow flexibility to move burns to another season or year according to the conditions.”
The South Australian Government has committed an additional $37 million over five years to the state’s prescribed burn program, as part of the $97.5 million response to the Keelty Review into last season’s catastrophic bushfires.
The investment will see the Department for Environment and Water aim to increase the prescribed burns program by 50 per cent in coming years.
Prescribed burns can also play an important role in regenerating habitats for native plants and animals, and the requirements of these species are factored into the planning process.
In South Australia, prescribed burning is part of a shared responsibility with the CFS, government agencies which manage land (e.g. DEW, Forestry SA and SA Water), local councils and private landholders.
The community still has a significant role in undertaking risk reduction strategies on their own land.
If the smell or sight of smoke or fire triggers distress, please know this is a normal reaction after our recent experience of bushfires. You can seek support with free professional phone counselling on 1300 032 186 and visit the Recovery SA website for more resources.
For the most up-to-date information on prescribed burns follow @SAENVIRWATER on Twitter.
A list of planned prescribed burns is available on the DEW website.
You can also subscribe for updates on NPWSSA prescribed burns straight to your inbox: www.environment.sa.gov.au/topics/fire-management/stay-informed