Each year we face the threat of bushfire, and as we have seen, the effect can be absolutely devastating.

Whether the forest is a national park, state forest or part of other reserve systems, all forests need to be actively managed to reduce the risk of destructive bushfires.

The fact is simple: we must manage for fire first, as catastrophic bushfires in Victoria are the greatest threat to biodiversity, the viability of many threatened species, water supply from Melbourne’s catchments, and our future supplies of timber.

Put simply, it is more effective to reduce the risk of catastrophic bushfire than it is to try to recover these values. Forest, biodiversity, water, and land management policies must prioritise the minimisation of the risk of catastrophic bushfire.

Sustainable forest management supports a range of environmental, social, cultural and economic values. It is important that forest management practices meet the high regulatory standards that are required in Victoria and are continually improved to reflect new knowledge, technology and values.

The main drivers of significant fire risk are weather, fuel load and topography. Of these three drivers, only fuel load is within our control. The only thing that will really stop a big fire is the ongoing management of the fuel load, and rapid suppression when fires do occur. Rapid suppression requires locals with knowledge of the forest and the equipment to suppress fires. This is one of the many roles the forest and wood products industry performs.

Forestry is a tool for forest management. The activities and skills of the industry are not limited to commercial harvesting of timber but include ecological forest thinning, biomass management to reduce fuel loads, forest regeneration and restoration, roading and infrastructure, and first attack fire response.

It is important to understand the vital job forest industry workers perform in fighting fires and reducing the fire risk throughout Victoria. Many forest workers dedicate their time and energy to firefighting efforts every summer, and are on the frontline of efforts to keep all Australians safe.

Resources

For the latest information on bushfires in your local area please visit the CFA website www.cfa.vic.gov.au

For the latest information preparing for and recovering from bushfires, please contact the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667

The cost of bushfires can have a devastating impact on our forests, both natural and plantation.

There are steps you can take throughout the year, not just during the summer months to help you plan for and manage bushfires.

The Victorian Farmers Federation have put together a series of fact sheets regarding fire safety, that are available publicly.

Visit the VFF website for more information.