Managing bushfire risk
How can we reduce the risk of bushfires?
Reducing bushfire risk is an ongoing and shared responsibility and everyone has a role. Together with CFS, SA Water, ForestrySA and other partners, NPWS undertakes fire management across more than 18 million hectares of public land on behalf of all South Australians.
The aim is to reduce the risk of bushfire on public land, and private land in strategic locations, to safeguard the things people care about in the areas where they live. This involves fire management tactics such as prescribed burns and other tools.
State Bushfire Coordination Committee is tasked with coordinating bushfire management in South Australia.
The CFS is bushfire hazard leader in South Australia and oversees and coordinates the bushfire prevention activities of multiple agencies and landowners. DEW, CFS, ForestrySA, and SA Water work together to deliver an integrated approach to emergency management (prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery) across public (and some private) lands in high bushfire risk areas. This fire management planning at the state level is put into action at the regional level.
NPWS also collaborates with conservation and industry groups, and national emergency management agencies, to reduce bushfire risk and/or fight fires.
Protecting Murray Bridge with a prescribed burn
Tools we use to reduce risk
Prescribed burning is part of a broader strategy needed to combat the more extreme fires Australia now faces.
Other strategic fire management activities like removing weeds, and rolling, or slashing vegetation, help to lessen the risk, intensity and spread of future bushfires, which makes suppression more achievable and safer. For example, selectively thinning clumps of vegetation, which is increasing a fuel load, is an effective way to reduce bushfire hazard while looking after the environment.
NPWS also maintains a network of fire access tracks in national parks across the state, in line with standards set by the CFS. These tracks are audited annually and where necessary, vegetation is slashed or rolled, and overhanging tree branches are removed. This ensures they can be safely accessed by firefighting appliances for prescribed burning and bushfire response.
All this prevention work is informed by meticulous research and planning and sits alongside being prepared, responsive and attentive to recovery.
How do we prepare for bushfires?
NPWS contributes to CFS-led bushfire responses by supplying staff as firefighters, strike team leaders, sector commanders and divisional commanders; and aerial ignition staff who light fires from helicopters for back-burning operations in difficult to access areas.
It also supplies specialist staff in incident management roles including Incident Controllers, and agency liaison staff in the State Command Centre; planning and operations officers; mapping support teams; fire behaviour analysts; and a Natural Values team.