State Government reaches burn-off target, says it will keep burning

May 4's smoke haze viewed from Applecross. Photo: Andrew Ritchie
May 4's smoke haze viewed from Applecross. Photo: Andrew Ritchie

ABOUT 216,000 ha of bush has been cleared by prescribed burns so far since July 1 last year, the second year in a row the State Government has exceeded its target of 200,000 ha.

That marks the first time in 21 years the target has been exceeded two years running.

Despite reaching that mark, Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said there are no plans to stop for the next few weeks even though Perth has been blanketed with a smoke haze frequently this autumn.

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“The department will continue to undertake as much prescribed burning as it can in the coming weeks, weather permitting and when safe to do so, as part of its shared responsibility in keeping communities safe,” Mr Dawson said.

Since July 1, 2017, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ (DBCA) Parks and Wildlife Service has commenced 127 burns on land that it manages.

This includes national parks, conservation reserves and State forest from Gingin in the north to Denmark on the south coast, including the Perth Hills area.

DBCA’s prescribed burning target for its south-west forest regions is to have 45 per cent of department-managed land in these regions at a fuel age of less than six years since last burnt.

“The McGowan Labor Government is committed to ensuring greater collaboration between government agencies, local government authorities and industry to ensure the Western Australian community is protected from the damaging impacts of bushfires,” Mr Dawson said.

“We allocated an additional $5.5 million in funding in the 2017-18 financial year to enhance the department’s prescribed burning program, which has boosted the department’s resources.

“We’ve had an outstanding year, with burning last spring and this autumn reaching around 216,000 hectares due to detailed planning and ideal weather conditions, particularly during May.

“I thank department staff and volunteers for their hard work in achieving such an excellent result, and I also thank the wider community for their understanding where smoke has impacted populated areas.

“The department aims to minimise smoke impacts, however, this has been unavoidable at times.”

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