Collecting, evaluating and using evidence allows us to make more informed decisions about bushfire management, and continuously improve our management of bushfire risk.
Fire Science - We are world-leaders in fire science. Our fire analysis and modelling is sophisticated and continually strengthened by fire ecologists who are leaders in their fields. Through research partnerships, we are continually improving our understanding of how fires start, spread and behave.
Monitoring the impact and effectiveness of our fire management operations is crucial for ensuring we are managing bushfire risk in the best possible way.
Understanding our Environments
Victorian ecosystems are diverse and complex. Research into biodiversity, native habitat, forest growth stage and climate change all contribute to ensuring we have the most up-to-date information to most effectively manage for healthy environments.
Social Sciences (Understanding the Community)
Understanding what people and communities value in their environment and how bushfire and fuel management impact on these values is crucial to delivering a program supported by all Victorians. We engage specialists from a range of disciplines, to better understand how people connect to the land and how we can reflect this in our actions.
We partner with a range of independent research organisations who are experts in their fields and who promote best practice in multiple aspects of bushfire management
What Do Fire Experts Say?
Associate Professor Kevin Tolhurst of the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences from the University of Melbourne discusses technology and innovation in fire sciences at Science In Use, the DELWP Science Symposium 2015
Dr Steve Leonard, Research Fellow with the Department of Ecology, Environment and Evolution, La Trobe University discusses ecological responses to fire and monitoring, evaluation and reporting at Science In Use, the DELWP Science Symposium 2015
Prof. Kathryn Williams, of the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences from the University of Melbourne discusses the science of community values at Science In Use, the DELWP Science Symposium 2015
DELWP and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) are working with universities and research organisations to improve forecasting of smoke behaviour – where it will go and how intense it will be – and understanding its impact on communities.
Predicting the spread, accumulation and dissipation of smoke from planned burns and bushfires
By improving our understanding of fuel emissions, fire behaviour, weather and climate processes, this research is improving our understanding of how smoke from planned burns and bushfires, spreads, accumulates and dissipates. The project will provide training and tools to help fire management agencies to better understand smoke and its impact on communities and industries.
Bushfires, Smoke, and People - assessing the risks and benefits from planned burning on the urban-rural interface
This research, being undertaken by University of Tasmania and the Menzies Institute for Medical Research is
- Working with fire management agencies to develop scientifically-informed practical guidelines for managing smoke from planned burns and bushfires
- Using air quality monitoring, satellite imagery and atmospheric modelling tools, to learn how different fire management practices affect community exposure to smoke.
- Developing practical public health approaches for managing smoke exposure impacts.
- Using meteorological Doppler radar to measure and track the spread of smoke plumes from planned burns and bushfires
The results of this work will contribute to better outcomes in the community aimed at reducing the impact of smoke from bushfires and planned burns.
Phoenix Rapid Fire Case Study
Phoenix RapidFire is a sophisticated bushfire simulation tool used to model bushfire risk. Developed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), the University of Melbourne and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, Phoenix uses information about weather, topography, vegetation and fire history to simulate (and predict) the spread and impact of bushfires. It helps us to understand bushfire behaviour – including flame height, ember density, spotting distance, convection column strength and intensity.
DELWP, Parks Victoria and the CFA use Phoenix to understand how different fuel management activities affect the amount and location of bushfire risk across landscapes. This helps us to identify the most effective strategies to reduce bushfire risk.
Phoenix is also used to support bushfire response, informing the preparation and positioning of fire fighters, aircraft and equipment on days of high fire danger. Phoenix bushfire simulations are also used to help communities understand how bushfires behave. Maps and simulations are used in conversations with communities about what bushfire risk means for them.
Monitoring, Evaluating And Reporting
Our framework for monitoring, evaluation and reporting is used to better manage outcomes as well as activities. Information from monitoring is embedded in our future decisions and becomes part of our knowledge and capability for better bushfire management.
This forms a foundation for activity across the fire management sector; a foundation of shared knowledge and evidence on which we can improve our ability to reduce bushfire risk.
We are building on this foundation by developing a sector-wide monitoring, evaluation and reporting framework that incorporates knowledge and experience of all agencies and local communities.
Under our new approach we will measure and report annually on a range of measures in the delivery of the fuel management program on public land including:
- Performance against the risk target
- The activities undertaken to achieve the risk reduction target
- Costs and funding
- Smoke impacts
- Impacts on plants and animals
- Effect on the local environment's resilience
- Community engagement
By learning together, and from each other, we will be more effective in creating safer and resilient communities.
Fuel Management Report 2014-15
This report is the summary of our annual fuel management activities and achievements towards longer-term objectives. It presents metrics and measures for assessing the performance of the fuel management program at the State and regional levels, including costs. Case studies about our engagement and collaboration with communities in each region demonstrate our commitment to meaningful involvement of local communities in our activities. Some key points from the Fuel Management Report 2014-15 are:
- The current level of residual bushfire risk in Victoria is 65 per cent which is below the 70 per cent target set in Safer Together
- The area of public land treated with planned burning was 234,614 hectares, representing 85.3 per cent of the 275,000 hectare target
- There was no change in the area of public land below minimum tolerable fire interval (TFI), with the area below TFI remaining at 52 per cent, primarily as a legacy of the 2003, 2006-07 and 2009 bushfires.
FOCUSING ON COMMUNITY VALUES
People value many different things in a landscape. Homes and properties, infrastructure and our unique ecosystems are all factored into our bushfire management planning. However, people also have very personal connections to their landscapes and their environments that stem from their sense of place and why they enjoy living in the bush.
We are investing in a number of projects to try and better understand how people connect with their surroundings and what they value in a landscape. This work will help us identify some of the less tangible things people care about and how we can most efficiently work to protect these values.
EVALUATING OUR EFFECTIVENESS
Monitoring operational effectiveness is critical for ensuring we are managing bushfire risk in the best way possible. We use key questions to assess how effective our actions are at reducing risk of major bushfire and how we have changed vegetation levels and key habitats for vulnerable species.