City of Joondalup to start grass tree burn program

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THE City of Joondalup will soon start a program to reduce the risk of fires that could result in damage to life, property and the environment.

In association with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), the Hazard Reduction Grass Tree Burning Program aims to mitigate the severity of wildfires and bushfires by burning selected grass trees (balgas) in a mosaic pattern, and surrounding leaf litter, leaving burnt and unburnt areas to provide minimal impact to flora and fauna.

Joondalup Mayor Albert Jacob said a co-ordinated and planned approach was required to address fire management within the City to reduce the threat of damaging fires.

“The introduction of hazard reduction grass tree burning within applicable reserves and bushland areas has been recommended as a bushfire mitigation strategy by DFES,” he said.

“Grass trees make up a high proportion of vegetation within the City’s reserves and many have long unburnt dead skirts which are an extreme source of fuels.

“The grass trees can also benefit from hazard reduction burns, as fire will stimulate them to flower and seed.”

He said the times and locations of the burns would be scheduled in liaison with DFES and subject to suitable weather conditions.

“Hazard reduction grass tree burns will only be undertaken where it is jointly agreed by the City and DFES,” Mr Jacob said.

Residents living near a reserve or bushland area scheduled for a burn will be notified before, and the City will also notify the general community via a range of communication channels.

At a recent council meeting, corporate services director Mike Tidy said while all bushland reserves presented “some level of hazard”, Warwick Open Space would be a “suitable area to help alleviate significant hazards”.

“It will not be a large scale burn, but rather there will be small isolated burns in cold burn environments targeting hazardous grass,” he said.

At the meeting, some residents raised concerns with the program with one saying it would destroy the “natural home to quenda”.

He said all the Friends bushland groups were “unanimously against” the proposal.

Cr Mike Norman successfully moved an alternative recommendation to ensure Friends groups would be consulted about a proposed hazard reduction burn before the City’s final decision to proceed.

He also clarified there was no intention for the program to replace the City’s existing “fuel load reduction activities” but to supplement them in locations “where the traditional activities alone have not been able to achieve the desired fuel load reduction”.