The southwest of Western Australia is an internationally recognised biodiversity hotspot.
Scientists are warning it is at risk from the current prescribed burning program of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).
Fire and Biodiversity Western Australia (FaBWA) has asked the WA government to review DBCA's prescribed burning program in the southwest of WA on the premise that it is unsustainable and represents a significant threat to biodiversity.
The southwest of Western Australia is an internationally recognised Biodiversity Hotspot - one of two Global Biodiversity Hotspots in Australia. It is home to a rich variety of unique flora and fauna.
This region has the highest concentration of rare and endangered species in Australia, many of which are endemic and facing an exceptional loss of habitat.
There are many threats to this precious landscape. It is under severe pressure from logging, mining, fire - both wildfire and planned fire - and increased population. We are focused on the impact that current prescribed burning is having on this conservation estate.
WHO WE ARE
FaBWA evolved from the Denmark Fire Study Group which was formed in 2019 after a very hot prescribed burn that decimated a biodiverse area north of Denmark in the southwest of WA.
This fire destroyed the canopy and reduced the area to bare ground devoid of vegetation. The peat areas - which take thousands of years to form - were left smouldering for weeks.
FaBWA is committed to the protection and preservation of our unique ecosystems. We have petitioned parliament for a review into prescribed burning practices in the southwest of WA.
IMPACTS OF PRESCRIBED BURNING ON FAUNA
It's been a year since DBCA's 'prescribed' burn wiped out 50-65 numbats in the Perup-Weinup forest block DON_100 in WA's south west. This was a known numbat habitat. Bill Smart, who lives adjacent to the block, estimated that as well as the numbats, 5000 habitat trees were incinerated.
When Bob Brown (ex-Greens senator) visited the site he was appalled and commented: ‘this appears to be a managed fire that looks like a wildfire, that was started to stop a wildfire that would look just like this’. (Bill Smart, FaBWA Facebook group 17 May 21)
HUMANE SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL
FaBWA (through Denmark Environment Centre), in conjunction with Warren Catchments Council (WCC), secured funding from Humane Society International (HSI) Australia to investigate the impacts of Prescribed Burning on Biodiversity in southern WA.
The report is now finished and we will share our findings soon.
FIRE & BIODIVERSITY FORUM 2021
Broad scale prescribed burning is used extensively as a fire mitigation tool in the southwest of WA.
In 2021 a forum was held at the Margaret River HEART to examine its effectiveness and the ways is it interacts with the natural landscape, including its impact on all living things.
The FaB Forum was lead by Dr Carole Peters and supported by environment groups from across the southwest, including WA Forest Alliance, Denmark Environment Centre and Margaret River Regional Environment Centre.
PETITION TO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
On the 15th September 2021, our petition calling for an independent review of prescribed burning in the southwest of WA was tabled by the Honourable Sally Talbot MLC and Honourable Jackie Jarvis MLC.
On the 19th August 2022, 3 FaBWA representatives attended a ministerial hearing to answer questions about our request for a review. We are waiting for the government's decision.
PRESCRIBED BURNS IN YOUR AREA
The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation, and Attractions has released their indicative prescribed burn program for the 2021/ 2022 season.
If you live in the southwest, have a look at the predictive program and note if a patch of your favourite bush is scheduled for prescribed burning.
Head out with your camera, GPS and take photos. We are setting up a database of photo monitoring points so that post burn assessments can be made.