Monday, August 31, 2009

an unintended consequence for the dandenongs

Today the Premier announced the introduction of new planning provisions for the clearing of native vegetation for bushfire protection. The Shire of Yarra Ranges is one of the municipalities affected by the proposed changes, which are yet to be enacted.

The measures include:
- The introduction of the 10/30 right. This will enable residents to clear all vegetation within 10 metres of a building used for accommodation for bushfire protection and any vegetation (except for trees) to be cleared within an additional 20 metres.
- Changes to fence line clearing provisions. This will enable residents to clear all vegetation along boundary fence lines of their property to a maximum combined width of 4 metres.

But will the 10/30 right protect our communities against bushfire?

By reacting to Black Saturday bushfires and pre-empting the Royal Commission’s recommendations in relation to vegetation the Premier puts at risk people in the Dandenongs with the unintended consequence of landslip. Much of the land in the Dandenongs is classified as a land slip zone (erosion management overlay), the shire’s practice
notes are explicit in the importance of retaining natural vegetation wherever possible to avoid landslip.

The CFA recommends that a protective shield of trees be planted around the house to slow the wind, cut down radiant heat and catch flying embers.

In some parts of the Dandenongs where the allotments are relatively small (1/2 acre), if residents took up this option, there would not be one scrap of vegetation left. This could have serious consequences in managing landslip and erosion, let alone erode the natural assets and values we all enjoy as residents in this unique environment.

The CFA is explicit in its definition of
fire fuels: dead undergrowth, fallen branches, woodpiles, leaves in gutters, long dry grass, fallen leaves and twigs, Anything smaller in diameter than your little finger is a fine fuel and it is these that you need to clean up around your property to protect against bushfire attack. I can understand residents nervousness as we approach this fire season but we must concentrate on clearing our properties of fire fuels and not accept a blanket, indiscriminate approach to vegetation removal.

In notes released to support 10/30 rights the government makes reference to landslip and recommends that residents consider pruning their trees rather than remove them, however if the government was genuine about addressing the risk of landslip, vegetation in landslip areas should not be part of the 10/30 right.

The government is under pressure to act but it must make sure that community safety is paramount. The question I have is will the 10/30 right achieve this?

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At 3:51 PM, Blogger Roxanne Hull said...

a professional tree-lopper must still be required for large scale clearance surely?

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Samantha Dunn said...

I don't think there are any laws governing this and I can see residents taking matters into their own hands.


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