Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 440
Macquarie ACT 2614
Mr Peter Cunningham
PO Box 366
Canberra ACT 2601
Dear Mr Cunningham
ActewAGL Vegetation Management Consultation Paper
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.
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. It has input to the 2014 exposure draft of the ACT’s Strategic Bushfire Management Plan, and strongly supported the use of management practices that prevent ecological affects where Asset Protection Zones around existing suburbs encroach upon high conservation areas. 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 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.
In the context of ActewAGL’s Vegetation Management consultation paper, FOG is concerned about the impact of the proposed significant increase in minimum clearance distances around electrical infrastructure occurring in the Bushfire Abatement Zone. We note that ActewAGL Distribution has been liaising with the ACT Conservator of Flora and Fauna on this issue, and urge that smaller clearance distances be used in high conservation value areas or areas supporting threatened species.
25 January 2016