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Background information

Overview

The Kangaroo Island District Bushfire Prevention Committee (KIDBPC), in collaboration with the Kangaroo Island community, the SA Country Fire Service, the Department for Environment and Heritage, Kangaroo Island Council, SA Water, and the SA Bushfire Prevention Advisory Committee (SABPAC), has prepared a new bush fire risk management plan (BFRMP) for the Island - the KI BFRMP.

What is a Bushfire Risk Management Plan?

A Bushfire Risk Management Plan is a strategic level document that:

  • Identifies the level of bushfire risk to all types of assets (including human settlement, economic, cultural and environmental) across the landscape;
  • Records risk treatment strategies identified by the Bushfire Prevention Committee in consultation with the community that will be implemented to manage the bushfire risk;
  • Records the fire fighting authority, land manager or agency responsible for implementing the treatment strategies.
Steps in developing the Kangaroo Island Bushfire Risk Management Plan 

The KIDBPC conducted extensive community consultations from June-August 2008 to obtain information and input from the community on bushfire mitigation issues on the Island.

Together with input from brigades and land management agencies, this information was fed into the risk assessment in the KI BFRMP which is based upon the Australian Standard 4360 (2004) Risk Management, and utilises software provided by the NSW Rural Fire Service. This risk assessment was reviewed and signed off by the KIDBPC.

Ways of mitigating the bushfire risk, known as 'risk treatments', were then allocated to the assets identified as being at highest risk from bushfire impact, and these were also signed off by the KIDBPC.

The KI BFRMP has been signed off for public exhibition by the KIDBPC, SA CFS, DEH, SA Water, KIC and the SABPAC.

Plan Process Diagram
Assets at risk from bushfire on Kangaroo Island

The assessment of assets at risk from bushfire in the Kangaroo Island landscape has identified that 55.65% of all assets identified as KI BFRMP - Asset Summary Graphbeing at risk from bushfire impact are at extreme or very high risk. (See graph at left)

Based on the limited resources available for bushfire mitigation, the KIDBPC has determined to focus on treating areas of extreme risk and, where possible, areas of very high risk over the 5 year life of the plan.

A range of district wide treatments (see below) also support the treatment of all areas.

A number of settlement areas rated as being of high, medium or low risk have been targeted for treatment on the basis that failure to continue routine treatment of these areas could result in an unacceptable increase in the risk of bushfire attack.

The Asset Register (55KB) lists all the assets included in the KI BFRMP, and the Treatment Register (18KB) lists all the treatments included in the KI BFRMP.

Bushfire Management Zones

Zoning is commonly used in land management planning as a way of identifying appropriate management objectives for different parts of the landscape.

There are three types of bushfire management zone used in the KI BFRMP (see table below).

Zone Purpose Zone Objectives Zone Characteristics
Asset Protection Zone
(APZ)
To protect human life, property and highly valued public assets. To minimise bushfire impacts on undefended assets.
To improve the safe use of suppression strategies within the zone.
Highly modified vegetation maintained at Low to Moderate fuel hazard level.
Bushfire Buffer Zone
(BBZ)
To provide strategic areas of fire protection advantage which will reduce the speed and intensity of bushfire, and reduce the potential for spot fire development. To improve the safe use of suppression strategies in high to very high fire weather conditions within the zone.
To reduce the rate of spread and intensity, and minimise spot fire ignition and crown fire development within the zone.

Zone identification related to suppression objectives and dependent upon:

  • Topography
  • Aspect
  • Spotting propensity
  • Location of adjacent fire-breaks
  • Mosaic pattern of treatment

Fuel hazard level maintained at no greater than High

Conservation - Land Management Zone
(CCLMZ)
To meet relevant conservation and land management objectives in areas where APZs or BBZs are not appropriate. As per the land management and fire protection objectives of the responsible land management agency/land manager.
To reduce the likelihood of spread of fires.
As appropriate to achieve land management, (eg heritage and/or fire protection by broad scale mosaic burning) objectives.

These zones are based on a national approach to bushfire management zoning signed off by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2005.

Treating the Risk

There are two types of 'risk treatment' within the KI BFRMP:

  • 'district wide' treatments, which are measures that apply throughout the Island, and
  • 'asset specific' treatments, which target particular assets, whether they be houses, tourism accommodation, businesses, cultural sites, or environmental assets (including listed species), including the following strategies:

Summary of AssetSpecific Treatment Strategies

Hazard Reduction Fuel modification, including prescribed burning, focusing on APZ and BBZ areas, and a limited number of CLMZs (together with district wide enabling provisions for hazard reduction on private land); targeted compliance for settlement areas and tourism accommodation businesses.
Community Education Targeted community education focusing on bushfire action planning in areas of very high and extreme risk; focus on tourism operators and visitors; bushfire action planning for tourism businesses and public venues; education for school students.
Property Planning Promotion of preparation of structures for bushfire threat; identification of discretionary development conditions (together with proposed review of bushfire protection zoning in the Development Plan as a district wide treatment).
Preparedness Placement of fire access tracks to improve access and egress in strategic locations; preparation of evacuation plans for designated areas, including campgrounds and day visitor areas; transport planning for schools; emergency response planning for upper extreme fire risk days for tourism businesses and public venues. 

w.spacer 

District Wide Risk Treatments

The following district wide treatments are included in the KI BFRMP:

  • Recommending review by KI Council of the bushfire protection zoning in the Kangaroo Island Development Plan based on the risk assessment in the KI BFRMP;
  • Recommending to the CFS Chief Officer that the standard fire danger season is varied as required;
  • Requiring permits during the Fire Danger Season (FDS);KI BFRMP - Farm Units
  • Publicising fire restrictions during the Fire Danger Season (FDS);
  • Pursuing prosecution of arsonists/offenders;
  • Investigating all bushfire causes;
  • Promotion of Grain Harvesting Code of Practice;
  • Undertaking normal fire suppression activities;
  • Reviewing the appropriateness of Standard Fire and Emergency Cover allocations for Kangaroo Island (this is the basis the State Government uses for allocation of CFS response resources);
  • Preparation of Group Operations Management Plan (this is a standard plan prepared by KI CFS Group);
  • Fire access track auditing and maintenance by all agencies;
  • Preparation and implementation of agency fire management plans (such as DEH and SA Water plans);
  • Providing a mechanism for addressing bushfire hazard complaints;
  • Providing hazard reduction provisions for private landholders to undertake bushfire protection activities on their properties (see also 'what does the plan allow me to do to protect my property?', below);
  • Providing visitor information directly to visitors as well as to transport operators, translated into multiple languages.

Responsible agencies for implementation of these treatments are set out in the KI BFRMP.

Additional Information

Risk and hazard

The Kangaroo Island Bushfire Risk Management Plan (KI BFRMP) is based upon assessed bushfire risk. This is a different approach for bushfire management planning in South Australia, where previous bushfire prevention plans have been primarily based on fuel hazard assessment.

All fuel can be a potential bushfire hazard. However, one of the lessons learned from the Kangaroo Island Fires Complex in December 2007 was that if only hazard is considered in fire management planning, as has been done in the past, we have no objective basis treating for those areas that are at most risk of bushfire attack. This is because all fuel hazards are considered of equal priority, regardless of where they are located or the fire history in the area.Risk Assessment Diagram - small

Risk assessment is based upon likelihood and consequence (refer diagram at right) and supports the allocation of a range of appropriate treatments, including hazard reduction, community education and property planning.

Based on historical experience, and the very good quality data we have on fire history for Kangaroo Island, we know that there are some areas of the Island that experience frequent fire, and others that have rarely experienced fire.

Input from CFS brigades and the community, together with land management agency data and expertise, has also informed the risk assessment in the KI BFRMP. Many brigade members and farmers on the Island have decades of experience of fire in this landscape, and their knowledge of where and how bushfire can be contained in the Kangaroo Island landscape has been invaluable in developing the KI BFRMP.

This information has been fed into the risk assessment in the KI BFRMP which is based upon the Australian Standard 4360 (2004) for Risk Management. It has been undertaken based on community, brigade and land management agency input using software provided by the NSW Rural Fire Service.

The risk assessment was then reviewed in detail by a working group comprised of representatives from CFS KI Group, CFS Region 1, the KIDBPC, DEH and KI Council, before being endorsed by the KIDBPC as the basis for allocating risk treatments for the Island.


What are fire thresholds and fire regimes?

"Fire thresholds" refers to the concept of 'thresholds of potential concern' for a vegetation type or community. The 'concern' relates to the potential impacts of a fire regime on a vegetation type or community.

Thresholds of potential concern are developed by assessing the response of key species to different fire regimes. A fire regime is made up of the following elements:

  • fire frequency (eg. 4 fires in 20 years)
  • fire interval (eg. 4 fires in 20 years, but intervals between the 4 may vary - eg. 2 years, 6 years, 11 years)
  • fire intensity (low, moderate, high - commonly known as "cool" or "hot" burns)
  • fire type (eg. surface fire, crown fire, which is related to fire intensity)
  • fire season (eg. autumn, winter, spring)

Fire - Backburn Bales BeachA fire threshold map of the Island can viewed HERE (2.239MB)

The lower fire threshold is the recommended lower limit for fire interval in a particular vegetation association, while the upper threshold is the upper limit. Elements of intensity, type and season are also recommended based on species response to fire. Key fire response species are likely to significantly decline if these elements are exceeded.

For example, if the inter-fire interval is less than the specified time, species that take longer to flower and set seed can disappear from a community. Likewise, if a burn is of an inappropriate intensity, seed may not germinate.

The fire thresholds for the KI BFRMP and existing land management agency plans are based upon 'best available' research and information. It is recognised that there are significant gaps in fire ecology knowledge for Kangaroo Island.

Research projects, such as the Eastern Plains Fire Trial (* see below) currently being conducted on the Island, are critical to improving our knowledge base to inform management strategies into the future. For this reason, the KI BFRMP identifies the impacts of prescribed burn treatments proposed in the plan as an area to be monitored, subject to available resources.

The table below sets out the best available current fire regime information for Kangaroo Island:

w.spacer FIRE REGIME
(Source: DEH (2009)
w.spacer w.spacer Thresholds of Potential Concern (TPC) Spatial Criteria Frequency Intensity Season
MVS w.spacer TPC1: Lower threshhold in years TPC2: Higher threshhold in years Inter-fire intervals within TPC1 and TPC2 across more than X% of the extent of this MVS within the Landscape Planning Area Avoid 2 or more fires less than X years apart in the same location Avoid 3 or more fires of low intensity in the same location Some medium to high intensity fire needed to regenerate some species Avoid 2 or more successive fires in season
29 Mallee heath and shrublands 17 40 50 17 Y Y Same season
8, 47 Eucalyptus woodland and open woodland with a shrubby understorey 17 40 50 17 Y Y Same season
29 Mallee heath and shrublands 17 40 50 17 Y Y Same season
26 Casuarina and Allocasuarina forests and woodlands 17 40 50 17 Y Y Same season
30 Heath 17 40 50 17 Y Y Same season
28 Low closed forest or tall closed shrublands (including Acacia, Melaleuca and Banksia 17 40 50 17 Y Y Same season
21 Other Acacia tall open shrublands and shrublands 10 20 50 10 Y Y Same season
  • * For further information on the Eastern Plains Fire Trail contact Dave Taylor at the Department for Environment and Heritage - Kingscote, on 08 8553 2381.

The KI BFRMP is a South Australian Pilot Project

The KI BFRMP is a South Australian pilot of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) bushfire risk management planning framework. Detailed information on the NSW RFS planning framework is available on the RFS website:
http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/dsp_content.aspx?CAT_ID=537


Acknowledgement

The Kangaroo Island District Bushfire Prevention Committee, SA CFS, DEH, SA Water,
KI Council and the SA Bushfire Prevention Advisory Committee sincerely thank the
New South Wales Rural Fire Service for their support throughout the pilot project.

 

Right: NSW Rural Fire Service deployment - Kangaroo Island Fires - December 2007
Photo by Rob Ellis

NSW RFS - 02

 
 
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