Managing bushfire risk
DEPI is working in partnership with the community, other land managers and fire agencies to tackle the risk of bushfire and ensure the primary objectives of the Code of practice for fire management on public land are met.
This approach to managing bushfire risk is part of ongoing efforts to deliver the recommendations of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission and government priorities for emergency management.
The Bushfire Management Reform Program is guiding DEPI's bushfire management activities, including planned burning, ensuring that fuel management is delivering the best outcomes possible and risk reduction is at the core of what DEPI does.
The approach is balanced and it pairs local knowledge and expertise with the latest research and predictive modelling technology – to protect people, property and biodiversity.
Modelling bushfire risk – using technology to understand bushfire risk
DEPI uses computer modelling software called 'Phoenix RapidFire' to show how fire would spread under different conditions, in different terrain and vegetation.
This information is used, along with input from local communities, to better target fuel management works, like planned burning.
The Victorian Bushfire Risk Profiles report describes how DEPI uses this technology to model bushfires and develop plans at a state and landscape level. It also describes how DEPI measures the effectiveness of fuel management activities to reduce bushfire risk.
- Overview – Victorian bushfire risk profiles
- Overview – Victorian bushfire risk profiles – accessible version
- Victorian bushfire risk profiles
- Victorian bushfire risk profiles report – accessible version
This approach has already been used to model bushfire risk in the Dandenong Ranges landscape bushfire project led by the former Fire Services Commissioner.
Community values and engagement – everyone involved
Working together is crucial to effectively reduce the risk of fire in one of the most bushfire-prone areas in the world. DEPI works with communities, land managers, fire agencies and local interest groups to make better informed plans by getting a greater understanding of the things they value the most. This process looks at the many stages of bushfire management including prevention, preparedness, fuel management, response and recovery. One example is through the Bushfire risk landscape teams (see below).
Once the modelling and community engagement has been done, DEPI can develop strategies that bring together the scientific modelling and information on what the community values.
DEPI can then identify towns, infrastructure, economic activity and environmental assets that might be at risk from bushfires and implement fuel reduction activities accordingly.
Fire agencies work in partnership with local communities to reduce bushfire risk across both public and private land. DEPI is working more and more with the CFA, local councils and other land managers to identify fuel reduction activities on the areas of land where public land meets private land.
Residents, land managers and owners can also play a part by finding out about bushfire risks on their properly and having an up-to-date fire plan.
Reduce bushfire risk
DEPI has developed the monitoring, evaluation and reporting framework for bushfire management on public land to assess how well management activities across Victoria are achieving the objectives of the Code of Practice.
DEPI reports annually on the effectiveness of fuel management activities in reducing bushfire risk through the Fuel management report.
Bushfire risk landscape teams
Through DEPI's Bushfire risk landscape teams, DEPI will be speaking with communities and stakeholders to understand what they value in their landscape. This will help to develop plans that reflect community and stakeholders values by reducing bushfire risk to the things that are most important.
Bushfire risk landscapes are best explained as 'bushfire catchments'. They are comprised of areas of land where major bushfires could be expected to start, spread and impact. These areas have been identified using bushfire modelling and help align strategic planning with predicted bushfire behaviour and spread.
There are seven risk landscapes across Victoria, each with a dedicated team. These teams are multi-disciplinary and include people from DEPI and Parks Victoria with skills in land management, fire management, risk analysis, biodiversity management, monitoring and evaluation, and community and stakeholder engagement.
Each team will develop strategies to reduce the risk of bushfires impacting on communities, infrastructure and the environment. These strategies will be detailed in a strategic bushfire management plan, which each team is currently preparing.
DEPI's seven bushfire risk landscapes are:
- South Western
- Mallee and Murray Goulburn
- Barwon Otway
- West Central
- East Central
- Alpine and North East, and
- Alpine and Greater Gippsland
To find out more about how you can get involved in fire planning in your area, contact your local DEPI office.