As governments grapple with the threat posed by climate driven fire seasons, there is an ongoing debate about the role of fuel reduction burning (also called proscribed burning). While many experts agree that fuel reduction does play an important role in fire management, it is growing increasingly ineffective as fires become more severe and more frequent due to the impacts of climate change. While planned burning (and other fuel management techniques) can alter fuel loads, it must be carefully applied to reduce the risk of bushfire.

The Victorian government is currently running a survey about attitudes in local communities about how to manage bushfire risk.

There is a new interactive map which has been developed by Forest Fire Management Victoria as a guide to how bushfire risk management is planned across the state.

You can check out the fuel management strategy in your region and see why, where, and how often planned burning and other fuel management activities are being delivered.

They also want to know what else communities want and need to know, to ensure people are hearing and engaging with the right information about bushfire risk management – as and when they need it.

You can have your say by completing the online survey at Engage Victoria www.engage.vic.gov.au/delivering-bushfire-reform by 30 June 2021.

This is a great opportunity to express your views about the relative role of fuel reduction burning, and the fact that climate change is creating conditions where fuel reduction is less effective.

For instance, research published in 2021 in the Nature Ecology & Evolution journal found that with climate change ‘framing’ all fire events, proscribed burning has less impact on how individual fires burn on high fire danger days. Ross Bradstock, formerly the head of the University of Wollongong’s bushfire centre and one of the report’s authors, said the adage that “you can’t control the weather but you can control the fuel” was blown away by the intensity of the fires during the 2019/20 season. Similarly, hazard-reduction burning in remote areas would also have scant impact on limiting the scale of fires during extreme weather.