The value of planned burning

A recent fire at Silvan reservoir following a lightning strike was brought under control quickly thanks to a planned burn three years ago. 


In 2016 a planned burn of about 110 hectares was carried out in the south-west corner of Silvan reservoir. The terrain was very steep and the slope was greater than 20 degrees in some parts. The area last burned in a bushfire in the 1960s.

The burn area was north of the Monbulk township and north of a large number of igloos (very large plastic hot houses), and was a mixture of shrubby foothills forest and damp forest with a large number of stringybark trees. 

This area was considered to be in the top 10 per cent for risk reduction in the East Central area and critical for the protection of Monbulk and the reservoir. The slope acts as an ember launch.

This burn and another one in an adjacent area took a week to complete and covered Monbulk in smoke and dead embers for much of this time.

Fast forward three years. In mid-November 2019 there was a lightning strike in this area and the resulting fire burned about 2 hectares before it was brought under control.

The feedback from Melbourne Water personnel and CFA crews on scene was that the burn had made a huge difference and enabled them to contain the fire quickly. They said that spotting was minimal and this made the job easier. If the area had not been burned the spotting would have impacted the igloos and made suppression more difficult. 

Author: Sharon Merritt, Vegetation Management Officer