Prescribed burning season biggest in 30 years; half undertaken in Perth Hills

The Depatment of Parks and Wildlife undertaking prescribed burning in the Perth Hills. Picture: Jennifer Eliot
The Depatment of Parks and Wildlife undertaking prescribed burning in the Perth Hills. Picture: Jennifer Eliot

NEARLY half of the 238,000ha of prescribed burning achieved this season has been undertaken in the Perth Hills district.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said it was the best outcome in nearly 30 years; the last time burns of this magnitude were achieved was in 1987-88, when 252,000ha were burnt.

“An increase in the number of residents living in the hills and regional forest areas, coupled with more people visiting our natural attractions, makes it vitally important that prescribed burning not only continues but is supported and understood by the community,” he said.

“(Department of) Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) has had an outstanding season so far with burns reaching about 238,000ha due to excellent preparation, committed staff and beneficial weather conditions.

“The department is working hard to achieve as much prescribed burning as it can in the coming weeks, weather permitting and when safe to do so, to ensure the WA community is protected.”

Since July 1, 2016, DPaW has completed 91 burns in national parks, conservation reserves and State forests, from Gingin to Denmark on the south coast as well as the Perth Hills area.

DPaW Perth Hills District fire co-ordinator Michael Pasotti said 106,000ha was burnt in the region.

“We focused on large landscape burning to stop the mega-fires that can come through and wipe out towns,” he said.

“We also undertook smaller scale interface burning as a backstop in areas such as Lesmurdie, Kalamunda, Mundaring, Pickering Brook and Sawyers Valley.

“This was only possible because of remarkably good weather in spring and autumn as well as the financial backing of the State Government.

“Everyone put in a huge amount of work to make it happen.”

Mr Pasotti said while the department was well aware the smoke haze from prescribed burns had generated community concern, it could not always be avoided.

“When you are dealing with large scale burning there are times you really can’t avoid it,” he said.

“Given that 106,000ha was burnt and we only had a few days of smoke is not bad outcome.

“The result is the community is far better protected from the risk of bushfires which is far more damaging than a few days of smoke haze.”

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