ISSUE 3  MARCH 2022

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COMING SOON

ISSUE 1  AUGUST  2021

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WEINUP PRESCRIBED BURN MAY 2021

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FaBWA’s aim is the preservation of our unique flora and fauna.

There are many threats to this high biodiverse landscape: logging, mining, fire, both wildfire and planned fire and the increase of population and its pressure on our environment. FaBWA’s focus is the current use of planned fire or prescribed burning in the conservation estate and wanting to bring about change to this practice.

Prescribed burning of our land started by the then Forest Department in the 1960’s and has been developed into a system which affects all the remaining vegetation: National Parks, nature reserves, State Forests, Shire reserves and private property. Prescribed burning has become a very systematic process based predominantly on the historical age of the “fuel’. It is very rare now to come across country which has not had a burn through it in the last 20 years, most country has only 6 -10 years since the last fire. The severity and the scale have increased in the last 20 years.

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I have spent a lot of time in the bush as a commercial beekeeper. This onslaught on our incredibly unique ecosystems has been hard for me to witness over the years, seeing the effect of this continual burning which has weakened the remaining plants, leaving many areas devoid of marsupial and bird life.

FaBWA was born from the Denmark Fire Study Group, formed in 2019 after a very hot prescribed burn reduced a beautiful area just north of Denmark into an area of bare ground without canopy and leaving the low heath devoid of vegetation. The peat areas - which take thousands of years to form - were smouldering for weeks after.

We formed a small band of people wanting these practices to change and we have been lobbying government, politicians and operating personnel ever since since 2019, we have supported three fire & biodiversity forums; showcasing speakers from WA and interstate, and have had stories featured on ABC Landline and in the national news. We have had 37 environmental and industry organisations endorse a statement, which was delivered to the Premier and Ministers as well as a Facebook group membership rising to nearly 2000 members.

Our continual speaking out on this issue has instigated other groups to take up the call to emphasize the need for change, with scientists speaking out and other environmental groups writing requests for an independent review. We are not opposed to fire in the landscape. We believe that the scale, severity and frequency of prescribed burns are having a detrimental effect on our land.

The last few days I have been observing a block, just north of our town, which was burned in October last year. This block consists of Jarrah, Marri with a small pocket of Karri. Directly bordering this block there is a slightly larger area, which has not seen fire for 60 years or more - an absolute rarity in the southwest.

While walking through this old forest - with its huge trees and abundant life - I felt a sense of vibrancy. It gives me life, looking at the fungi, the flowers and the trunks with no scorch marks. This is a beautiful, healthy ecosystem. You can feel it. It has a myriad of trees from very young to ancient. There are trees which have fallen over a couple of metres in diameter, with life springing from them: mosses, fungi and insects turning this back into earth.

The understory has reduced in size and is quite traversable. Digging in the leaf layer, which is not more than an inch thick, there are fungal webs and partly composted material. This feeds the other organisms which live in this ecosystem. The burnt country is devoid of all this. Devoid of habitat as the ancient trees with hollows have gone. We send the nutrients and the carbon up into the atmosphere and the time needed for many species to regenerate is not there till the next burn.

With Climate Emergency upon us we have to be smarter and review this practice to come up with a better system to protect us from the big wildfires we have seen in the past.

Bart Lebbing

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FaBWA relies on volunteers and community donations, so we appreciate the fabulous support we get.

There are a number of ways you can join the campaign - collecting signatures for our petition, sending an email to the Environment Minister, or joining the discussion in our Facebook group.

Click on the buttons below for more details. 

ISSUE 2 OCTOBER 2021

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PETITION TO LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL


FaBWA's dedicated team of volunteers have been working hard over the past few months to campaign for change in prescribed burning environmental management. 

On Wednesday 15th September 2021, our petition calling for an independent review of prescribed burning in the southwest of WA was tabled by the Honorable Sally Talbot MLC and Honorable Jackie Jarvis MLC. We received 2 669 signatures - an incredible result! We are awaiting feedback from the tabling and will provide an update of the findings as soon as we can. You can access the tabling documents under publications.


The petition for an independent review highlighted the need for several measures to address the devastating impact that prescribed burning can have on important ecosystems and biodiversity. In support of our petition, FaBWA has made recommendations that:

 

  1. the prescribed burning target for the Forest Management Plan area be removed;

  2. research into cost efficiency and effectiveness of broad-scale prescribed burning is undertaken;

  3. research and implementation of early detection and at-source suppression of bush fire ignitions is supported; 

  4. broad-scale prescribed burning in the conservation estate is ended; and

  5. long unburnt country is protected.

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The great news that WA will stop logging in its native forests came as a surprise and is greatly welcomed by Fire & Biodiversity WA. A decades long campaign finally bore fruit, although we have a couple of years to go before it comes into effect.
 
It would be great if a similar route was taken by the WA government on prescribed burning, or at least instigate an independent review to assess if the $50 M spent annually is actually effective in protecting life and assets, is having a beneficial impact on the preservation of our unique flora and fauna and the impacts on Climate Change.
 
After the Weinup prescribed burn in March this year in the very rich biodiverse Perup region, where habitat was destroyed and possibly a lot of endangered species succumbed in the hot burn, there are now several blocks in the Upper Warren up for burning this coming fire season. Boyicup/Camelar, Kingston, Walcott and others.

We have done a fair bit of exploration in the Boyicup/Camelar area and have found a high occurrence of diggings, tracks and scats of endangered species. We hope to have a site visit here in the coming weeks with the staff of DBCA to find out what the plans are. Under Freedom of Information we requested the burnplan of these blocks, but were denied access twice. The plans not being finalised was the reason given.

The Upper Warren is an area with high biodiversity and a high occurrence of numbats, woylies, ringtail possums, cockatoos, phascogales and more, all endangered. For many of these species there are recovery plans, which mostly indicate that fire is a main threat to their existence.


We have been campaigning to get an independent review on all aspects of prescribed burning practices used in WA, its effectiveness, the toll on wildlife and flora, the emissions produced and the effect this practice has on our climate and the health of the planet.
 
We value the contact and discussions with regional offices of DBCA and politicians, but would like to see a turnaround in the halls of government to actually look at the issues, the concerns of many including the scientific community and initiate an independent review.

Bart Lebbing

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED

 

FaBWA relies on volunteers and community donations and we appreciate all the fabulous support we can get. There are a number of ways you can help with the campaign:

 

  • Contact your local MP to discuss your concerns about prescribed burning.

  • Email the Environment Minister and let them know you are concerned about prescribed burning.

  • Join the discussion in our Facebook group. 

  • Follow our Facebook page.

  • Sign up for our newsletter.

STRATEGIC PLANNING WORKSHOP


Recently, our FAB team of passionate scientists, specialists and community volunteers spent a day at the Denmark Environment Centre planning the strategic direction of the FaBWA campaign. Clare Campbell from Wildlife Asia facilitated a productive day of goal setting, and prioritising strategies and actions for the next two years.

The FaBWA Strategic Direction 2021 - 2024 will be published once final edits are made, and this document will become the blueprint for actioning urgent change in environmental management across southwest WA.


Our mission continues to be the ecologically sustainable management of fire in the conservation estate and on other public land, aimed at maintaining the natural and cultural values of our southwest Western Australia biodiversity hotspot.

If you would like to join the volunteer community of FaBWA and contribute to the protection of our southwest biodiversity hotspot, please get in touch: firebio.wa@gmail.com