Environment SA News

Prescribed burns program a success

National Parks and Wildlife Service has completed more than three quarters of its prescribed burns program during a season hampered by unfavourable conditions.

Prescribed burns program a success
prescribed burning activity in the Flinders Ranges

A total of 66 out of 87 burns (76 per cent) were completed across South Australia, compared with the long-term average of about 70 per cent each year over the past decade.

This included 29 out of 41 during the autumn prescribed burning season, which was initially pushed back because of heightened fire danger during March.

Burns were also postponed in various wine regions over concerns about potential smoke effects coinciding with another late year of grape harvests.

The success of the autumn season, which was further compressed by the early arrival of cold and wet weather, was despite only about 20 per cent of days being considered suitable for burning somewhere in the state.

National Parks and Wildlife Service Fire Management Director Fiona Gill said more than 80 per cent of burns were completed in just 10 days that were deemed ideal conditions.

“This is why preparation is so vital because it enables us to be ready when the weather produces the conditions we need,” Ms Gill said.

“Fire management staff planned and organised meticulously, using all our firefighters, fire appliances and available helicopters to get as many burns completed as possible.

“We can’t burn when the fire risk is too high and we can’t burn when the fuels are damp so it can be a real challenge, and we have to be vigilant to ensure we are doing what we can safely and responsibly.”

NPWS fire management staff completed 37 (four more than previously reported) out of a planned 46 prescribed burns during spring 2022.

Prescribed burns are a vital fire management tool to reduce fuel loads across public and private land, and to help protect communities and industries by limiting the spread and intensity of bushfires.

As part of the NPWS fire management program, every opportunity is taken to complete as many burns as possible in suitable weather and fuel conditions during spring and autumn.

Burns that are unable to be completed due to unsuitable weather are rolled over to the following spring or autumn as part of an ongoing, rolling 3-year mitigation program.

In South Australia, prescribed burns are a shared responsibility between the Country Fire Service, government agencies that manage land (DEW, ForestrySA and SA Water), councils and private landholders.

For the latest information on prescribed burns follow @SAEnvirWater on Twitter.

A list of planned prescribed burns is available on the DEW website. You can also subscribe to receive updates straight to your inbox.