Webinar mulls how to plan for unplanned fire

September 24, 2020 BY

The CSIRO's Justin Leonard says trees can be both friend and foe in a bushfire - the tree to the right of this picture acted as a heat shield for half of this house in Wye River.

THE third and final webinar in a series about the future of living in bushfire-prone regions such as the Otways considered how communities could plan for unplanned fires.
The event, organised by Friends of Lorne and the Aireys Inlet District Association, featured Barbara Norman from the University of Canberra talking about safeguarding the coastline during a period of significant change, and the CSIRO’s Justin Leonard talking about bushfire risk at the house scale.
Ms Norman said Australia was going to experience a “hotter and drier future”, but climate change would have many impacts beyond a longer fire season.
“Although this is about fire, none of this is in isolation, and clearly the context for you is the coastal environment.”
She said a risk management approach to these issues was considered leading practice.
“Coastal communities are dealing with a great deal of issues, and fire is just one, and there are only so many resources that local councils and the community have.”
In his talk, Mr Leonard used the VicPlan website (mapshare.vic.gov.au/vicplan) to show the various overlays in place on a coastal town such as Apollo Bay, including the bushfire management overlay (where certain planning controls apply) and the bushfire prone area (the area where bushfire is expected to reach).
He said the cumulative fatalities and house loss from every fire in Victoria between 1926 and 2011 revealed the destructive potential of the most intense fires.
“About 60 per cent of all our life and house loss actually occurs on the few days we’ve had major bushfire events that have reached Code Red (a Forest Fire Danger Index of 100 or more). So really, this is the contextual situation where we’re most at risk.”
People should focus on the fuel sources closest to their homes, Mr Leonard said, and work outwards.
“The consideration of the vegetation immediately adjacent to or even under your home is the most critical location that plays out in a bushfire.”
For the slides used by the presenters in all three webinars, head to friendsoflorne.org.au/includes/pages/news_ed_page.html.

Surf Coast Times – Free local news in your inbox

Breaking news, community, lifestyle, real estate, and sport.