Interestingly the workshop also covered ways to use fire to manage vegetation on roadsides and properties. I'm not a huge fan of this, due to not actually wanting to accidentally start a destructive fire, however, by the end of the workshop I was convinced that the occasional, very carefully managed fire in our bushland area could be a good thing for regenerating the vegetation. Burning of pasture, however, was confirmed to be a pointless exercise.
Fortunately, in preparing for an uncontrolled bushfire, we will also have the tools ready to manage a controlled fire for our own benefit, so it was a really good workshop. We were shown how to fill out a bushfire survival plan. And we had a good chat with a rural fire officer who was able to recommend equipment for us to set up a fire-fighting rig for the back of the ute.
When we registered for the workshop, the council took down our details and on the day they had prepared aerial maps and vegetation maps to help us work out our plans for using fire on our property. They helped us to interpret what vegetation was on our property and how often it could or should be burnt. Some Australian vegetation actually requires fire to regenerate, and ecologists have found that plant and animal species can die out in an area that has not been burnt frequently enough.
We then market up our map into zones - Asset Protection Zones ( areas that you want to keep clear and non-flammable, using materials such as gravel - around the house and sheds) and Strategic Fire Advantage Zones (areas such as driveways that you want to keep clear in a bushfire emergency and might consider burning regularly). Then we looked at Land Management Zones based on the different vegetation types (we only had one type on our property - Eucalyptus open forest, and its suited to burning every 4-8 years in order to regenerate), this is where we could then plan management techniques and frequency of planned burning. Note that some vegetation types do not benefit from fire and should actually be protected from fire.
If this is something you would find useful talk to your local council or rural fire service. SEQ Fire and Biodiversity Consortium is organising these sessions in SEQ, I'm sure there would be something similar in your area. If you can't make it to a workshop, check out the resources on their site, get yourself an areal map from google maps and mark out your zones. You can also create a bushfire survival plan here or through your state rural fire service. Those in southern states probably already have a plan, but here we have less frequent fires, less building requirements for fire-proofing and onus is more on the landholder to find out what to do.
We have some work to do to finish our maps and plans as a one day workshop was not quite long enough, but definitely gave us all the information we needed to make a start. It completely changed my opinion on the use of fire in maintaining our property and we will look at controlled burns in the future. Long-term, I really want to volunteer with the rural fire service and learn more skills for protecting our property and our neighbours' properties in future.
Do you have a bushfire survival plan? Have you used controlled fires to manage bushland?