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    Glenn Rudolph, Forest Fire Management Victoria's Wimmera district manager.

Fuel-reduction plan to meet threat

Land managers are gearing up to start a spring planned-burning program across the Wimmera in response to the threat of an approaching bushfire season. 

Forest Fire Management Victoria is busy preparing the program in an effort to reduce the impact of bushfires. 

Forest Fire Management Victoria district manager Glenn Rudolph said controlled burns, in reducing the amount of fuel in the landscape, were designed to reduce the intensity of bushfires.

“It makes it more likely that firefighters can contain bushfires before they spread and impact on people, property and the environment,” he said.

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“We take a whole-of-system approach to fuel reduction that builds on our management of threatened and vulnerable species. 

“It involves the development of ecological models and measures of ecosystem resilience under different fire regimes.”

Mr Rudolph said fuel-reduction work involved planned burns, slashing and mowing and creating and maintaining fuel breaks.

“These techniques are applied to predetermined areas under specific environmental conditions to achieve a desired outcome,” he said.

“We expect some opportunities to become available in the Wimmera within the next week as we head into spring, with milder weather allowing us to target areas that are too wet in winter, and before things get too hot and dry as we head into summer.”

Mr Rudolph said Forest Fire Management Victoria, in partnership with other land-management and emergency-service agencies, was aiming to complete several important planned burns across the Wimmera this season, including within the Grampians and Little Desert national parks, and around key centres such as Stawell and Ararat.

“When planned burns are undertaken, communities might see and smell smoke, and some roads and forest areas might have to be closed for public safety,” he said.

“There are only limited opportunities where conditions are suitable to undertake these important burns, so it is vital that we take advantage of every opportunity available to complete them. 

“These opportunities might occur during the school holidays, public holidays and over weekends.”

Mr Rudolph said people could find out latest information about when planned burns are happening by visiting website
burn, downloading a VicEmergency app or by calling a VicEmergency hotline –1800 226 226. 

He said callers who were deaf, hard of hearing or had a speech-communication impairment could contact the VicEmergency Hotline via a National Relay Service on 1800 555 677.

The burning program comes after government confirmation that a fleet of 50 aircraft will help fight fires this summer.

The State Government announced the aircraft fleet would include a mix of water-bombing aircraft, air-supervision and intelligence-gathering aircraft.

The fleet includes two air tankers, which can carry up to 15,000 litres of water, foam or retardant, and two 7500-litre aircranes, which provide essential support to other aircraft across the state. 

It also includes specialist night-time aircraft, which can be involved in firebombing and intelligence operations after dark, when conditions are suitable.

The entire September 11, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!