Fuel loads to be reduced around Lake Claremont to lower bushfire risk

Stock image.
Stock image.

TREES and shrubs will be cut back because of a high bushfire risk in reserves and parkland at Lake Claremont, Claremont.

A report at last week’s council meeting said the town should begin reducing fuel load in the area as soon as possible. The report said the greatest hazards where along paths and corridors of bush at the lake’s north west, near Swanway and Eastway crescents, the east end of Gloucester Street, Strickland Street and nearby Alfred Road.

Surveys of fuel loads around the lake were conducted after changes to laws in 2015 required builders of new homes to assess their sites’ susceptibility to bushfire.

The report said it was found the fuel loads at the lake ranged from two tonnes per hectare to 15t ha, with the average of 8.5t ha being 0.5t ha above safe levels.

In addition, there were “higher than ideal” densities of overhanging trees and bush, particularly along paths between the lake and adjacent homes near the streets north west of the lake.

“The inability to create a safe buffer zone between residences and a possible fire front is a significant factor in the loss of property,” the report said.

Councillors rejected an offer from volunteer members of the Friends of Lake Claremont to remove dangerous branches and bush over several years because the work was urgent.

Controlled burns were not considered because of the friends’ concerns about their effect to wildlife and flora.

However, councillors agreed to a method of eco-mulching, whereby excessive undergrowth is chipped on-site to create a fire-retarding layer.

The mulching will be used in addition to removing and thinning lower branches near homes, walkways and 20m of the lake reserve’s boundary.

An unbudgeted $12,000 was agreed for the work before the fire season.