Tag Archives: planned burn

Impacts of planned burns on the Southern Greater Glider

This planned burn scorched the canopy, collapsed habitat trees and burnt through gullies

Importance of Strathbogie State Forest for the Greater Glider

The 24,000 ha Strathbogie State Forest in north-east Victoria was declared an Immediate Protection Area (IPA) by the Victorian Government in November 2019 on the basis of its state-wide importance as habitat for the nationally endangered Southern Greater Glider.  This declaration formed part of the recommended conservation actions in the Action Statement prepared for this species under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act to help ensure its survival (DELWP 2019). 

2023 Greater Glider surveys

Areas scheduled for burning in 2023 are known to contain critical habitat for Greater Glider (see full report below), however Greater Glider occupancy in some of these areas prior to 2023 was poorly known. We have conducted nocturnal surveys in several of the burn areas.

Results of these surveys re-emphasize the importance of this forest for the long-tern conservation of the Greater Glider and two of the burn units have glider populations at least has high as anywhere else in the Strathbogie Forest. Even the western-most unit, Strathbogie South-Ruoaks Rd, contains a glider population with detection rates far in excess of most other forest areas in Victoria (DCCEEW 2022).

Summary table of Greater Glider detections in the blocks planned for burning 2023. *Numbers from the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas are approximate given the location accuracy of some records in relation to burn unit boundaries

Available evidence shows that the Strathbogie Forest currently contains high densities of Greater Glider and a high population overall. There is considerable evidence that planned burns in the Strathbogie Forest have an overall degrading effect on the ecological health of the forest.

Continue reading

New DELWP plan for Barjarg Rd burn

Parlours Block - Proposed Planned burning Autumn 2016 as at 13042016

Parlours Block: yellow highlight- planned burn of drier forest; green line- candling of messmate trees around perimeter and internal access track.

DELWP and Minister Neville have adopted a new plan for this season’s Barjarg Rd burn. Whilst this is very welcome news, the devil is always in the detail – and the forest is still soooo dry!

You will remember that the primary focus of this 3000 ha burn was Parlours Block, 650 hectares of the upper catchment of Parlours/Sugarloaf Ck. Minister Lisa Neville has now assured us that…

Priority will be now be given to the Strathbogie South – Dry Creek  burn [see footnote] and the Parlours Block component of the Strathbogie – Barjarg Rd burn. Both fall within the Bushfire Moderation Zone (BMZ) and have the greatest strategic value to risk reduction. 

The original planned Barjarg burn has been divided into three areas, Parlours,  Harpers and Moonee blocks. Harpers and Moonee blocks will not be scheduled to be planned burned this year. The following treatment are proposed for Parlours Block this Autumn if conditions allow: Continue reading

‘Planned-burn’ undermines Andrews Government credibility with local community

Strathbogie Sustainable Forests Group
Media Release
31 March 2016

[Media release pdf link]

Controversial ‘planned-burn’ undermines Andrews Government credibility with local community

A proposal for the largest ever planned burn in the Strathbogie forests of north-east Victoria has led to anger and mistrust of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). A spokesperson for the Strathbogie Sustainable Forests Group (the group) said “We have been in discussion with DELWP and Minister Lisa Neville’s office for many months, pointing out the serious risks of proceeding with this unprecedented burn, and requesting that the burn be deferred.”

Though the group has painstakingly, repeatedly and honestly presented solid arguments for deferring this burn, to this day, they have received no responses from DELWP or the Minister that seriously address the issues raised. What’s worse, DELWP has now publicly misrepresented the group’s position, stating that the group has an agreement with DELWP as to how the burn should proceed – this is false.

“We have now broken-off all ties with DELWP Hume Region management because of what we see as insincere community engagement, the cynical manipulation of community concern, inadequate attention to the role of healthy forests in climate change and lack of concern for threatened wildlife.”

The group is calling on the Victorian Premier to intervene in this issue, to re-establish the community’s trust in Government consultation and to show a commitment to managing natural resources for current and future generations.

What has led to this point?

  • DELWP have publicly claimed that they have an agreement with the SSFG re this season’s planned burns (Vic. Country Hour, ABC Radio) –this is completely false. Whilst we acknowledge the need for strategic planned burns, we have consistently opposed this 30 square kilometre burn from the outset and have never entered into any agreements. To suggest that we have, is to suggest that we will be partly responsible for the consequences of the burn.
  • DELWP have repeatedly, and without basis, claimed that there are ‘huge numbers of people’ urging them to conduct this burn. As members of the local communities most affected by these planned burns, we reject this assertion and would say that most local people in the community value these forests and do not want to see them burnt for the purpose of meeting a target.
  • Sound bushfire protection requires collaboration and respect from all parties involved (agencies and community).  That means working together to identify the major risks and the best strategies for dealing with those risks. Misinformation and delay tactics demonstrate that DELWP is not interested in collaboration or community concern.
  • The planned burn flies in the face of Minister Neville’s stated commitment to helping the environment and nature in her newly released Biodiversity Strategy. The burn risks killing hundreds of individuals of the Threatened Greater Glider, as well as scores of Koalas.

Based on all of these State Government misrepresentations and deceptions relating to the proposed burn, our local communities, among them many CFA volunteers, do not believe that we are being respected and valued as regional Victorians.

The Strathbogie Sustainable Forests Group is calling for:

1.      An immediate deferral of the 30 sq km planned burn this season and
2.      An independent assessment of appropriate future use of these important native forests.

0409 433 276

ABC Radio interview: http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/news/audio/201603/rural-vch-podcast-24316.mp3 start 13:30, ‘agreement’ comment at 18:35

SSFG Parlours Walk

Members of the Strathbogie Sustainable Forests Group inspect part of the area DELWP intend to burn.

Barjarg Rd and Dry Creek planned burns - a vast area to be burnt in a single year.

Barjarg Rd and Dry Creek planned burns (white outlines) – a vast area to be burnt in a single year.


One of the hundreds of wildlife fatalities from last year’s 520 ha Tames Rd burn.

Inner Melb FRB

Here’s what the 30 square kilometer Strathbogie Forest burn would cover in inner Melbourne – pretty big aye.



Easter Monday walk – Parlours Creek

SSFA Parlours Creek Rev C-3

Mt Strathbogie forest walk Feb. 2016

DSCN0915At about 1000 m altitude, this is the highest part of the Strathbogie Ranges, often snow-covered in Winter, but on this day it was warm and sunny; the blue sky a perfect backdrop for the canopy foliage high above our heads.

About 20 people joined the walk, a ramble really, with plenty of stops to look and listen and learn more about this magical forest. It was like walking through a cathedral of old-growth Blue Gums, Mountain Gums and Narrow-leaf Peppermint (although these were only on the lower slopes). The age and grandeur of the forest was humbling.


At the midpoint of the walk we stopped under an old, gnarled giant – a Mountain Gum as old as any in these forests. So old, it had grown and lost dozens of upper branches that were now spouts – hollow, tube-like stumps of dead and living wood – structures characteristic of many of the gum-barked eucalypts. Continue reading

Strathbogie forest – stop the Barjarg Rd burn

Old-growth trees in the vicinity of Mt Strathbogie.

Old-growth trees and open understorey in the vicinity of Mt Strathbogie.

There’s much discussion about how fire should be used in the Strathbogie Forest. An aim of any fuel reduction program is to create a vegetation mosaic, so that fuel loads vary and a wildfire can’t just rush through a forest unhindered. Of course, we’re talking here of ‘normal’ bushfires; no amount of fuel reduction or breaks will stop a big fire on a really, really bad day.

Planned burns to reduce forest fuel have been conducted for many decades in the Strathbogies, but have only been mapped since the 1970s (40+ years ago). We are concerned that too much planned burning is occurring in the Strathbogies and that it’s having a negative impact on significant forest assets. Our recent survey of the Tames Rd planned burn showed how ecologically devastating a ‘successful’ planned burn can be.

These maps of the main part of the Strathbogie forest show how much planned burning was done and where, in each decade since the 1970s. For reference, some other forest management assets are mapped: brown= pines, yellow = ‘reserves’, purple = Special Protection Zones (high conservation value areas), green = mapped/modeled old-growth (forest with old-growth elements eg. big trees). The darker-green background is forests that  Click on an image for the slide show.

Its’ interesting to see how the patchwork of planned burns increases with time. Keep in mind that lines on maps don’t tell the whole story. Important detail such as percent coverage, fire intensity, fire impact are not documented for any of these burns, so the maps are only part of the picture. Nonetheless, it’s clear that much of the forest has been burnt in the last few decades.

In the Strathbogies, long-unburnt forest and ecologically mature forest is rare and fragmented. Such forest has particular biodiversity values not present in younger forest and there are many types of plants and animals that rely on long-unburnt forest for survival.

Two things stand out from this information:

  1. The existing fire mosaic is a good basis from which to develop a plan for strategic burning in the future and
  2. The remaining areas that are long-unburnt, that contain ecologically mature forest of high conservation value, should remain unburnt.

Now look at what’s on the Fire Operations Plan for the next few seasons, including 2016. Continue reading

Planned burning decimates old-growth trees – Strathbogie forest

Report: Tames Rd planned burn – impact assessment (2 MB)

“The results of research into the effects of fire on different types of bushland are an important influence on DELWP’s planned burning program.”This Blue Gum, one of the largest trees measured at 1.7 m dbh, killed & felled by the burn.“DELWP and its partner organisations carry out research to understand the needs of animals in different types of bushland and the effect of fire on animals and their habitat. DELWP uses this information when planning and carrying out a burn.”

DSCF4610“This information, combined with other local knowledge, helps DELWP decide where and when to carry out planned burns, and how to reduce the impact of burns on the bushland.”

_MG_3733“When planning burns to reduce fuel, DELWP aims to copy the natural cycles of fire that suit the plants and animals in a particular area. The burns are not as hot as bushfires, so most native plants are able to tolerate the heat.”

Another giant bites the dust.“Occasionally an unhealthy tree may die after a fire or planned burn. However, a small number of dead trees in a forest is normal and these trees become important habitat for some animals, reptiles and insects.”

OMG! The largest living tree in the survey area (1.9 m dbh), burnt and felled by the burn!

The above quotes are from DELWP’s Planned Burn>Plants and Animals webpage, but oh, how different reality is!

DELWP is an organization of many good people wanting to make a difference, but we fear that the juggernaut of policy & operations  just sweeps everyone along and the details fall through the cracks.

Planned burning (and logging) in the forests of the Strathbogie Ranges is decimating the remnants of what old-growth vegetation has survived 150 years of white-man’s management. If our survey results are anything to go by, the few big, old trees that remain, along with hollow-dependent fauna and forest resilience, are in real danger, thanks to the scale and type of planned burning currently in operation

Late in 2015 members of the SSFG conducted a number of transect surveys to assess the impact of this planned burn on the old-growth trees left in parts of that forest

Report: Tames Rd planned burn – impact assessment (2 MB)

As a result of our surveys, the Strathbogie Suatainable Forests Group has concluded:

1. DELWP needs to acknowledge that the Tames Rd planned burn has had disastrous environmental consequences for the forest.
2. Adopting current planned burn practice for the other scheduled burns in the Strathbogies is totally unacceptable.
3. The planned burning schedule for the Strathbogie forest needs a major, evidence-based, re-think and an unequivocal backing away from the 6700 ha target as set out in the current FOP.
4. In the absence of DELWP agreeing to the above points, we are calling for a complete moratorium on planned burning in the Strathbogies (LMZ and BMZ), pending a VEAC investigation into the management and values of this important natural asset.


For more background, previous posts on this topic include:

One-third of Strathbogie forest to be burnt in 2016-18

Planned burning – an ecological disaster?

Tames Rd planned burn – survey 2





Mt Strathbogie walk – Feb 21, 2016

Mt Strathbogie walk Feb 2016

Tames Rd planned burn – survey 2

Survey group checking locations and calibrating instruments at the start of a transect survey.

Survey group checking location and calibrating instruments at the start of a transect survey.

The results of our initial survey, last November, of DELWP’s Tames Rd planned-burn were alarming! So much so that we decided to survey a different part of the planned-burn in order to increase the area surveyed, the number of trees measured and improve the robustness of the survey overall. Two additional 50 m-wide transects (total 1000 m long) were surveyed on Dec. 6th last year, bearing west off Dry Creek Rd; Transects 3 and 4 on the map below.

Annotated map of DELWP's assessment of the impact of the planned-burn on the forest.

Annotated map of DELWP’s assessment of the impact of the planned-burn on the forest. Click to enlarge.

As in the previous survey, all trees greater than or equal to 70 cm dbh were measured (to the nearest centimeter) and their condition recorded according to these four categories:

  1. Burnt, or not burnt by the planned-burn. This category included all trees that showed signs of being burnt by the planned-burn. If any part of a tree was at all visibly burnt by the burn is was categorized as ‘burnt’.
  2. Living, or dead at time of burn. It was important to determine the impact of the planned-burn on forest stags (dead, standing trees), so all dead trees (standing and fallen) were inspected to determine whether they were dead or alive before the burn and whether the burn felled them, or whether they had fallen before the burn. Where doubt arose, burnt, fallen trees were excluded from the survey.
  3. Killed, or not killed by burn. If a tree showed signs of life (green leaves) it was regarded as ‘living’, even if it’s health appeared compromised by being fire affected.
  4. Standing after the burn, or felled by the burn. This was applied to both trees and stags

These categories allowed us to assess the impact of the planned-burn on both living trees and stags (standing, dead trees) in the forest and across two size classes – 70-99.9 cm dbh and >100 cm dbh. This time around we measured 151 trees and stags (compared to 122 in Transects 3 & 4).

Although DELWP’s ‘post burnt extent and severity map’ suggested our transects would be in largely burnt forest, both transects passed through large areas of unburnt forest. Nonetheless, the picture was much the same as in the previous survey – many of the biggest and oldest trees had been destroyed by the fire. Click on an image below to view the slide show. Continue reading

Planned burning – an ecological disaster?


One of the remaining giants in this forest; killed and felled by last season’s planned burn. Note the lack of big trees in the forest beyond.

In the wake of  fuel reduction burning last Autumn, we asked “Can a low intensity, planned burn be too hot?“. Early indications suggested that at least some of last season’s planned burns had a devastating impact on high conservation value, old-growth trees in the forest. Those observations, though concerning, were only anecdotal; no-one had gone into the forest after the burn to systematically assess it’s impact. So, last Sunday, 22nd November 2015, our Citizen Science project got underway. Our goal was to survey 50 m wide transects through the Tames Rd planned burn, count the number of trees greater than 70 cm in diameter and assess how the fire had impacted them. In particular, we wanted to know these things about each tree:

Large areas of the canopy were severely burnt and now trying to recover.

Large areas of the canopy were severely burnt and are now trying to recover.

  1. Was it dead or alive before the fire,
  2. Was it burnt by the planned burn,
  3. If it was alive before the burn, was it now still alive, or dead,
  4. was it still standing, or had it been felled by the fire?

We split into two groups of about six, armed with tape-measures, gps, data-sheets, camera, picnic lunch and First Aid kit. The going was pretty slow, as the forest contained about 20 trees/ha greater than 70 cm dbh. Much of this forest had been heavily logged, perhaps 40-50 years ago, and regeneration from that disturbance has created a dense stand of poles. We had planned to survey at least two 1 km transects, but it took each group about 3 hours to walk a 550 m transect – there were lots of trees to measure!

So, what did we find? Continue reading