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Have your say on fire prevention
**VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT MEDIA RELEASE**
Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith has encouraged Victorians to find out about planned burning and other fuel reduction activities proposed for public parks and forests in their local area.
Mr Smith said the Victorian Coalition Government, through the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI), is putting its draft three-year Fire Operations Plans on display throughout August.
“DEPI and Parks Victoria carry out fuel reduction activities in our parks and forests to reduce the negative impact of possible bushfires that start or spread on public land,” Mr Smith said.
“Each DEPI fire district has drafted a local plan that shows where planned burns and other works such as slashing, track works and construction of fire breaks will be carried out over the next three-year period, depending on weather and other conditions.
“Some of these activities will be carried out close to communities and I encourage Victorians to take a look at the draft plans to see what is proposed for their area.”
Mr Smith said DEPI and Parks Victoria updated the three-year plans each year with the latest local information and that a wide range of stakeholders and communities were involved in the process.
“The plans are shaped by discussions DEPI has had with Victorian communities and stakeholders such as the CFA, local councils, Melbourne Water, forest managers and flora and fauna specialists,” Mr Smith said.
“The Coalition Government values local knowledge and feedback and we welcome input into our planning process from all Victorians, all year round. There is still opportunity to discuss new activities proposed in the plans with DEPI during August.
“We want to minimise the impact planned burning may have on communities, businesses and our environment as much as possible – but ultimately the decision to burn is always driven by the need to reduce bushfire risk to human life and property as the highest priority.”
Mr Smith said the Fire Management Zones are critical in guiding the planned burning program, helping DEPI decide where and how fuel reduction work will be carried out – while a range of other important factors, such as biodiversity and bushfire history, are also taken into account.
“It is important to recognise that bushfires, which are a reality in Victoria, play a significant role in reducing fuel hazard. The 2012/13 bushfires reduced fuel hazard on around 165,000 hectares of public land that was classed as suitable for planned burning; this has been factored into our planning,” Mr Smith said.
During the last financial year the Coalition Government achieved the largest amount of planned burning on Victoria’s public land in 30 years when it successfully burned more than 253,000 hectares.
“The figure far exceeded the efforts of the former Labor Government, which in 2002/03 and 2005/06 only managed to burn 49,000 hectares and on four occasions failed to reach the 100,000 hectare mark,” Mr Smith said.
Local draft Fire Operations Plans will be on display from 1-31 August 2013.
To view the plan for your area visit your local DEPI or Parks Victoria office or go to www.depi.vic.gov.au/burns