Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 440
Macquarie ACT 2614
ACT Emergency Services Agency
GPO Box 158
Exposure draft to Strategic Bushfire Management Plan version 3
Friends of Grasslands (FOG) is a community group dedicated to the conservation of natural temperate grassy ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. FOG advocates, educates and advises on matters to do with the conservation of grassy ecosystems, and carries out surveys and other on-ground work. FOG is based in Canberra and its members include professional scientists, landowners, land managers and interested members of the public.
As previously stated, FOG is very aware of the need to plan and prepare for bushfires and the priority of public safety in terms of managing the reserves and other green spaces around Canberra, and recognises the acknowledgement of environmental values in the exposure draft of the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan (SBMP), and the work done to date to minimise the impact of bushfire prevention operations on high value conservation areas. In this regard, we note the intent of integrated and effective operation of the different plans under the SBMP and the Nature Conservation Act.
In 11.1.7 Asset Protection Zones we also note and strongly support the use of management practices that minimise ecological affects where APZs around existing suburbs encroach upon areas of high conservation value. There are a number of high quality Natural Temperate Grassland areas within the urban framework, both in and outside formal reserves, as well as Box Gum Grassy Woodland areas on the urban fringe, which could be adversely affected by unsuitable fire management practices. Given the poor condition of many of our remaining endangered NTG sites (see K Hodgkinson: Condition of selected Natural Temperate Grassland sites in urban and peri-urban Canberra: Final report to the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, ACT, 2014), it is essential that bushfire management practices applied to any part of any of these NTG areas be as sympathetic to retention of conservation values as possible.
Also concerning section 11.1.7, FOG supports the approach, for new developments, that Inner APZs will lie within the footprint of the developable area, and that Outer APZs will only be accepted on adjacent lands such as nature reserves where the ability of the adjacent land manager to meet the fuel management requirements for an Outer APZ is not limited or prevented by conflict with sustainable management regimes in high conservation value ecological assets. This is critically important to conserve our remaining Box Gum Grassy Woodland areas. FOG remains concerned that, in resolution of conflicts between bushfire management, commercial interests and conservation management when planning new estates and their APZs, the environment will come out the loser.
25 July 2014