Hotspot Fire Project

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Hotspots workshops at Broken Head, Bocoble, Canyonleigh and Wagonga

Monday, 25th June 2018

Auntie Vivian and Mary starting Wagonga burn_K.McShea

Bocoble: The Hotspots team has delivered four workshop series since January. Just south of Mudgee, NSW RFS Facilitator Bruce Hansen and NCC ecologist Mark Graham, in conjunction with Cudgegong District RFS and the Watershed Landcare group, ran a two-day workshop for the community of Bocoble. With a focus on local fire and conservation issues, the delivery team helped landholders develop fire management plans and built a stronger relationship between locals and the fire services.

Conditions on day two of the workshop provided for an excellent burn, effectively demonstrating fire behaviour and how this can be influenced by changes in weather and topography. This second workshop attracted 14 participants with evaluation feedback that both workshops improved their understanding of biodiversity and the effects of fire on plants and animals, and increased their understanding of how to use fire to manage their property.

Broken Head: Further north, RFS Hotspots Facilitator Jamie Bertram and Mark Graham conducted a similar program for the Broken Head region. The two-day workshop series attracted 19 landholders whose properties are part of the coastal bushland corridor that supports a large number of threatened species and communities, including Littoral Rainforest, a Critically Endangered Ecological Community. The burn conducted on the second day in a small area of blackbutt forest was a significant event because it had not been burnt for more than 50 years. Response from participants was overwhelmingly positive, with most landholders feeling more confident using fire to manage their land. To build on the skills and relationships made in the workshop series the district is considering setting up a Hotspots café where people can meet regularly to discuss fire management plans, share knowledge, and coordinate their fire and conservation management on a landscape level.

Canyonleigh: In the south of the state, two workshops were delivered in the Southern Highlands area of Canyonleigh, near Bowral. Bruce Hansen and NCC ecologist Kevin Taylor delivered the two workshops with the support of the Southern Highlands Fire Control Centre, Canyonleigh brigade, and Wingecarribee Shire Council.

The workshops were an opportunity for well-established locals to discuss fire and conservation with newcomers who had been in the area for only two months. The Wingecarribee Shire Council ran an event between the first and second workshops to help landholders complete their property fire-management plans.  Several properties in the area are part of the Land for Wildlife scheme, and the area is important habitat for koalas. The conditions on the second day permitted a successful burn that demonstrated fire behaviour and Hotspots key messages. 

Wagonga: Also down south, the Hotspots team has just wrapped up a workshop series with the Wagonga Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) near Narooma. Phil Paterson, Kevin Taylor and Jamie Bertram delivered a tailored series over two consecutive days. The workshop followed a three-day cultural burning workshop and Bush Firefighter training for the Rangers that was delivered by NSW RFS and National Parks and Wildlife Service.   

On the first day of the workshop members of the LALC discussed how they wanted to manage their land and what they wanted to achieve. The local habitat features, plants and animals, and their interaction with fire was discussed. This led to the LALC starting to develop property management plans for between one and five years for the areas they manage. The plans included fire and habitat management as well as protection of sites of cultural significance. During the second day there was an opportunity for the Rangers to put into practice what they had learnt and complete three patchy burns over a 0.5 hectares area to reduce the fuel load and stimulate native species regeneration. A highlight of the workshop was seeing the enthusiasm of young people for land management and fire planning.

Find out more at the Wagonga Local Aboriginal Land Council website.

Carwoola: Checking in with the community after the workshops in September and October 2017, the Carwoola Rural Fire Brigade (formally the Stoney Creek Rural Fire Brigade) has now run six Hotspot Café events. Discussions have focused on the scarlet robin conservation project, mitigating bush fire risk, general property protection, pumping, and managing animals in emergencies.

In May, 2018 David Hanzl, captain of the Carwoola Rural Fire Brigade, and Zoe D’Arcy, resident of Carwoola and master’s degree student in disaster resilience travelled to Coffs Harbour for the 2018 Australian Community Engagement and Fire Awareness Conference. Along with Hotspots facilitator Phil Paterson, and RFS Hotspots coordinator Jennie Cramp presented their experiences of Carwoola as a fire-affected landscape.

Register your interest for our future workshops via the Hotspots website: http://hotspotsfireproject.org.au/contact

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