The following Question on Notice was asked by the Member for Warren-Blackwood Terry Redman MLA and answered in Parliament today by the Member for Baldivis Reece Whitby representing the Minister for Environment Hon Stephen Dawson MLC

Mr D.T. Redman to the minister representing the Minister for Environment; Disability Services:

I refer to the Royalties for Regions funded Enhanced Prescribed Burning Program, and ask:

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(a) what has been the effect of this additional resource on meeting the annual prescribed burning target set by your agency;

(b) what are the last 10 years of prescribed burning achievements by the agency and can the Minister show in a table the impact of the RFR funded enhanced prescribed burning program on these achievements since the funding initiative began in 2015/16;

(c) will the Minister table advice given by the agency on risks of not extending the enhanced proscribed burning program beyond 2018/19 as outlined in the budget;

(d) what does the Minister expect will be the level of prescribed burning achieved each year, following the expiry of the RFR funded enhanced prescribed burning program at the end of 2018/19; and

(e) will the Minister’s department have any access to fire mitigation resources outlined in the budget for the new Rural Fire Service?

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Mr R. Whitby replied:

(a) The additional Royalties for Regions resources to fund the Enhanced Prescribed Burning Program has assisted the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) to exceed the nominal 200,000 hectares prescribed burning target for the south-west forests regions for the past two financial years. It is the first time this has been achieved in consecutive years in over two decades.

(b) The table below provides details of the total area of prescribed burning achieved in the south-west forest regions, for the last 10 years from 2008/09 – 2017/18. The Enhanced Prescribed Burning Program funding is used in addition to recurrent funding for employment of seasonal conservation employees, prescribed burn boundary preparation, relocation of resources across regions to facilitate burning, overtime and engagement of external contractors.

Year  Forest Regions Prescribed Burning Achievement (hectares)
2008/09 151,818
2009/10 212,017
2010/11 136,746
2011/12* 103,165
2012/13* 23,468
2013/14* 78,234
2014/15 147,082
2015/16 154,149
2016/17 247,360
2017/18** 218,919


* Prescribed burning programs from 2011/12 to 2013/14 were impacted by work to satisfy recommendations relating to risk management and prescribed burn planning arising from the Report of the Special Inquiry into the Margaret River Bushfire of November 2011. During that time procedures to ensure prescribed burn planning was in accordance with ISO 31000, the international standard for risk management, were developed and adopted statewide.

** Provisional figure.

(c) The McGowan Government is committed to prescribed burning given it is the primary means of reducing the level of combustible fuel and therefore the risk of bushfire faced by our community. Future funding, including an extension of the Enhanced Prescribed Burning Program will be considered as part of the Government’s 2019/20 budget process.

(d) Suitable weather conditions to conduct prescribed burning directly influences DBCA’s ability to implement its prescribed burning program. It is therefore not possible to forecast with any degree of accuracy, the level of prescribed burning that may be achieved each year. Progress will be monitored against the nominal annual target of 200,000 hectares and the objective to maintain at least 45 per cent of fuels in its south-west forest regions at less than six years of age.

(e) This question should be referred to the Minister for Emergency Services. Nevertheless, DBCA will work closely with the new Rural Fire Division in the Department of Fire and Emergency Services to ensure that mitigation actions maximise community protection from bushfires.

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