Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
- Q1. How does NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) assess fuel loads?
- Q2. What are the responsibilities of NPWS if a fire leaves a National Park and enters private land?
- Q3. If fire management of National Parks is for conservation adjacent to my property, will this clash with my property management objectives?
- Q4. What if I have a conservation agreement on my property?
- Q5. I would like to undertake a joint burn for biodiversity with NPWS - is this possible?
- Q6. How can I get the RFS to assist me in doing a burn on my property? What are my legal obligations?
- Q7. The recommended fire intervals don't suit the vegetation on my property, how do I overcome this? How do I manage rainforest?
- Q8. I don't believe the landscape needs fire to improve biodiversity, as I have excluded fire on my property for decades - do you have proof?
- Q9. What's the difference between using grazing to manage fuels loads and using fire?
- Q10. What about people who are no longer able to manage their properties due to age or disability?
- Q11. What about landholders who do not want to be involved and have unmanaged lands with high fuel loads?
- Q12. What if I do not want to burn?
- Q13. Why isn't frequent fire a good thing for native vegetation?
- Q14. How do I know what intervals apply to fire management on my property?
- Q15. When are Hazard Reduction Certificates and Fire Permits required?
- Q16. What if I can only attend 1 workshop day?
- Q17. Can I attend as an RFS brigade member if I do not have a suitable property?
- Q18. What do I do if I have not finished my fire management plan?
- Q19. If I have identified fire as a management tool on my property for the next 12 months, what's next?
- Q20. What can I use my fire management plan for?
- Q21. How do I register my interest in attending a workshop and completing a fire management plan for my property?
Q1. How does NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) assess fuel loads?
The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and NPWS uses the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment’s (DSEs) Overall Fuel Hazard Guide. Using this guide, NPWS takes into consideration surface, elevated and bark fuels and then calculates an overall fuel load in tonnes/ha. Other agencies including the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) also use this guide.
Multi agency research is underway trialling methods of determining fuel loads by remote sensing from the air.
Q2. What are the responsibilities of NPWS if a fire leaves a National Park and enters private land?
All landholders including private and public have a responsibility to manage fire on their land. NPWS have a responsibility to manage fire within their boundaries – Section 63 of the Rural Fires Act 1997 states:
“It is the duty of a public authority to take the notified steps (if any) and any other practicable steps to prevent the occurrence of bush fires on, and to minimise the danger of the spread of a bush fire on or from any land vested in or under its control or management”.
Q3. If fire management of National Parks is for conservation adjacent to my property, will this clash with my property management objectives?
A key objective for the NPWS land management is to “protect life and property – both within parks and on immediately adjacent land” In most cases private and public landholders can work together to achieve common management objectives. Fire does not respect boundaries therefore management of fire needs to consider this. Speak with the local NPWS Fire Management Officer or local ranger to discuss options for management.
For more information regarding fire management and National Parks see the following link: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/fire/mngfireinnswnatpks.htm
Q4. What if I have a conservation agreement on my property?
Hotspots work with all types of landholders and encourage those with conservation or similar agreements to take part in the project. Often conservation agreements take into consideration fire and require a fire management plan. Hotspots are well-placed to assist these landholders with making a plan and implementing it where possible.
Q5. I would like to undertake a joint burn for biodiversity with NPWS - is this possible?
Yes. Where appropriate, NPWS will work with neighbours to conduct burns for both biodiversity and risk. Contact your local NPWS ranger or Fire Management Officer and they can assist you with planning and conducting a burn.
Q6. How can I get the RFS to assist me in doing a burn on my property? What are my legal obligations?
Contact your local Fire Control Centre or local brigade captain and they will be able to assist you. To request assistance a ‘Request for NSW RFS assistance with a prescribed burn’ form will need to be filled in.
There are two options to burn: you can request a brigade to assist you, or you can undertake the burn yourself. Either way you will need to ensure as the landholder that you have all the appropriate approvals and permits in place (for example a Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Certificate (HRC) from the RFS) before a burn is conducted and that all the appropriate notifications are made. Having a property plan or Hotspots Fire Management Plan will help the RFS in determining the best option for burning on your property. Once a burn is put in place on your property (regardless of who lights and managed the burn), it is your responsibility as the landholder to ensure the burn does not leave your property.
To find your local Fire Control Centre refer to the following link: http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/dsp_content.cfm?CAT_ID=577
Q7. The recommended fire intervals don't suit the vegetation on my property, how do I overcome this? How do I manage rainforest?
Fire intervals for NSW are set according to state-wide Keith classification vegetation types or communities and have been devised based on best available science. They are broad types and so there may be instances where the intervals aren’t a best fit for your vegetation. In this instance, it may be advisable for an RFS officer or an ecologist to assess the vegetation on your property, to provide you with some advice on fire management. This will occur when you apply for your Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Certificate (HRC).
Rainforest is very sensitive to recurring fire events, therefore fire should be excluded where possible (under the Bush Fire Environmental Assessment Code, burning is not permitted). Generally rainforest vegetation is found in sheltered moist places which will not easily burn however this can change during hot, dry and windy conditions. Rainforest creeks and gullies can be used in planning fire management actions depending on the site conditions.
There are various options for mitigating the impacts of fire on rainforest such as reducing the fuel load in adjacent drier vegetation types. Mosaic burning could be conducted on other areas of the property to create varying fuel loads and thus reduce the likelihood of fire entering rainforest. A buffer could be created between the rainforest and other areas of the property with other vegetation. Follow up weed control may be necessary along the rainforest edge after some works.
Q8. I don't believe the landscape needs fire to improve biodiversity, as I have excluded fire on my property for decades - do you have proof?
Fire is an important part of the Australian environment. It can bring about a sudden change to the elements of an ecosystem, effecting both the structure and species composition of native vegetation. Fire is important in regenerating plant communities - indeed; the germination of many Australian plants is dependent on fire. Some native vegetation types therefore require fire to regenerate. On the other hand, fire can seriously damage native plant communities and threaten life and property.
Only in the last 20-30 years have Australian scientists gained a better understanding of the significant role fire plays in shaping these land systems and the biodiversity within them. Fire ecology is now an important area for scientific research. It is critical to understand your landscape and the role of fire within it. A good approach is to talk to people with knowledge in your region, start small and vary your fire management based on your observations of vegetation responses to fire.
Q9. What's the difference between using grazing to manage fuels loads and using fire?
Many Australian forests and grasslands have adapted to take advantage of a particular fire regime. The use of low intensity fire actually encourages regrowth, flowering and seeding germination of many flora species. Livestock grazing reduces the grass and shrub layer which is good for risk management but does not address other fuel sources such as suspended fuel and bark. Long unburnt sites subject to grazing lose many plants species which need fire for seed germination and regrowth.
Q10. What about people who are no longer able to manage their properties due to age or disability?
Landholders should refer to the RFS AIDER (Assist Infirm and Disabled Elderly Residents) programme, which provides a one-off free service to residents that can’t manage their own land in bush fire prone areas. Under this programme RFS staff will prepare control lines and other measures to conduct hazard reduction burns or other measures to reduce risk on your property.
Q11. What about landholders who do not want to be involved and have unmanaged lands with high fuel loads?
Hotspots is a not a compulsory programme. If a landholder does not wish to participate then that is their choice. However, we do encourage neighbouring landholders to support each other to participate and do joint management across borders.
If landholders do not want to participate and have high fuel loads, perhaps they can be persuaded to undertake works as an individual to reduce their risk. They may be undertaking other management activities which can be extended to manage their risk, or the RFS hazard complaints process may be used to ensure works are undertaken to manage fuel loads.
They might consider undertaking burns with the local brigade without being involved in Hotspots, or undertaking mechanical works.
Some landholders are not keen to participate as part of the community, but may respond better to one-on-one contact with the local RFS district office or brigade.
Q12. What if I do not want to burn?
Burning is only one of the many ways to manage land, whilst we encourage burning for the enhancement of certain types of vegetation, alternative management options can be considered also. This may include grazing, mechanical works, exclusion of fire, fencing of areas etc. However, keep in mind burning is an effective way of managing both risk and ecological values and can greatly enhance the biodiversity of many vegetation types.
Q13. Why isn't frequent fire a good thing for native vegetation?
The frequency of fire has an important effect on the vegetation of an area. It can take up to 7 years for mature seed to develop in some species. If the only way that these species can reproduce is by seed, and mature plants are killed by fire, then a fire reoccurring after 4 or 5 years will eliminate this species from the vegetation community.
Other species can survive by sprouting from their base after a fire. These species may survive a fire regardless of fire frequency - but if fires are too frequent, it may weaken the plant and it too may be eliminated over time. Fire frequencies can also be too long in some cases, resulting in the elimination of some species if these species rely on fire for germination.
Q14. How do I know what intervals apply to fire management on my property?
This depends on how the land is identified within your areas Bush Fire Risk Management Plan. Each of the 4 zones; Asset Protection Zones (APZ), Strategic Fire Advantage Zones (SFAZ), Land Management Zones (LMZ) and Fire Exclusion Zones (FEZ), has a different definition of fire intervals for the major vegetation formations within Keith. These fire interval recommendations can be found within the Bush Fire Environmental Assessment Code for New South Wales (Appendix A) and in the BFCC Policy; 1/2008. Note: These documents are reviewed every 5 years, so make sure you refer to the current version.
Q15. When are Hazard Reduction Certificates and Fire Permits required?
Hazard Reduction Certificates are an environmental assessment and if required for your hazard reduction works are applicable all year round. They last for 12 months from the date of issue.
Most Fire Permits are generally only required during the Bush Fire Danger Period, with the permit timeframe at the discretion of the fire permit issuing officer.
Q16. What if I can only attend 1 workshop day?
While we recommend that you attend both days of training, it will still be beneficial to attend at least one day. The Hotspots Facilitator will do their best to work in with your schedule, and will assist where they can. Having a fire management plan alone is a great start if only Day 1 can be attended and other options may be possible to still observe a planned burn which the local brigade is undertaking.
Only attending Day 2 is not recommended as concepts and exercises covered on the day relate to those from the Day 1 workshop. If as a landholder you really want to attend Day 2 (without having attended Day 1), then contact the facilitator to see if there is an opportunity to complete a fire management plan for your property before Day 2. While every effort will be made to accommodate your schedule please bear in mind this may not be possible due to the volume of work leading up to programme delivery.
Q17. Can I attend as an RFS brigade member if I do not have a suitable property?
Yes. We encourage attendance from all landholders in the community as there is much to gain from the Hotspots Training Day 2 in regards to vegetation, fire behaviour and low intensity burning.
Q18. What do I do if I have not finished my fire management plan?
The plan is a working document and depending on how you intend to use your plan will change. The resource materials handed out during the workshop (Preparing a fire management plan) can assist you in completing the plan if you have run out of time during the workshop. If you require additional assistance you can contact your local agency representatives who attended on the day. Also remember this is your plan for you to use for your records and to assist in managing fire on your property. The more it’s kept up to date with changes such as recent fire history, the more useful it will be.
Q19. If I have identified fire as a management tool on my property for the next 12 months, what's next?
If you are planning to do a burn on your property you need to contact your local RFS to ascertain what approvals are necessary including Hazard Reduction Certificates. Once your approvals and planning are in place you should notify your neighbours prior to burning. If you wish NPWS or RFS to assist you with a burn please refer to Q5 and Q6.
Q20. What can I use my fire management plan for?
The plan is yours to assist you in fire management planning for your property. The plan can also be used for coordinated or cooperative fire management with neighbours and agencies. The plan can also be used as on-going record keeping and passed on to any future owners of your property.
Q21. How do I register my interest in attending a workshop and completing a fire management plan for my property?
Check out our interactive ‘Where we Work’ map to see if there are any upcoming workshops in your area. You can also register your interest in attending a Hotspots workshop series via the Contact Us page.
If you have a question you would like answered or think that we're missing something that should be on this page, please let us know.