- Higher rainfall than other parts of Victoria
- Coastal, mountain and farm communities
- The Otway Ranges are the main geographic feature
- Dense population close to forests and bushland
- Prioritising fuel management within 3 km of high-risk towns
- Planned burning to help prevent major bushfires from reaching priority communities
- Partnering with the community and CFA to manage risk on private land
- Preventing burning in some areas to protect sensitive ecosystems
The residual risk curve tells a story about how bushfires, recovering fuels after bushfires and our fuel management activities, affect the changing levels of bushfire risk across the landscape over time.
Within the Barwon Otway landscape, residual risk is currently at around 61%.
Residual risk fell sharply in 1983 following the Ash Wednesday bushfires, highlighting that a significant portion of risk in the Barwon Otway area is located in the Eastern Otways.
The level of risk steadily increased between 1983 and through early 2000's due to fuel re-accumulating across the landscape.
Since the mid 2000's, there has been an increased focus on strategic fuel management in the Barwon Otway area, with a targeted program of treatment within two to three kilometres of high risk townships and concentration of burning along the northern slopes of the Otway Ranges. This has resulted in a 20-25% reduction in bushfire risk in this landscape.
Residual risk is projected to be limited to 62-64% through to 2020 as planned burning scheduled in the fire operations plan is carried out.
Without planned burning, residual risk would increase rapidly to 72% by 2020.
Figure 1: Residual risk profile, Barwon Otway BRL, 1980–2020
Understanding the impact of fire on ecosystems requires first being able to define and measure ecosystem resilience. Tolerable Fire Interval (TFI) and Vegetation Growth Stage Structure (GSS) are used as indicators of ecosystem resilience at a landscape level. These allow us to better understand ecosystem resilience and the impacts of fire.
Within the Barwon Otway landscape, around 25% of vegetation on public land is currently below minimum TFI.
In 2014/15, less than one percent of vegetation on public land was burnt by bushfire or planned burning while below minimum TFI.
From 1991 through to 2000, the area of vegetation on public land below minimum TFI slowly decreased from around 25% to just over 15%. This occurred as vegetation burnt in the Black Friday bushfires of 1939 and Ash Wednesday bushfires of 1983 reached minimum TFI.
Following a period of relative stability, the area of vegetation below minimum TFI has increased to over 25% within the past seven years, due to increased planned burning in drier vegetation types. It is expected that the area burnt while below minimum TFI in the treatable vegetation types will increase over the next decade due to planned burning in higher risk areas.
Tolerable Fire Interval: Barwon Otway
Growth Stage Structure: Barwon Otway
Strategic Bushfire Management Planning
Strategic bushfire management planning is about bringing together land and fire managers, communities and stakeholders to develop a common understanding of bushfire risk across the landscape and determine the most appropriate management strategies and actions to reduce that risk.
We have developed a strategic bushfire management planning framework that, with the help of communities, identifies values to be protected from bushfire, assesses bushfire risk to those values and sets out strategies to manage this risk.
The first generation Strategic Bushfire Management Plans, released in 2015 described our approach to bushfire fuel management on public land.
We are now working on new strategies to manage fuels across public and private land, bringing together local knowledge and values with world-leading bushfire science and modelling capability. For more information about the Strategic Bushfire Management Planning process and how to get involved, see the Strategic Bushfire Management Planning page.