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Scientists call for changes to bushfire mitigation in WA

Liam Bartlett
Article image for Scientists call for changes to bushfire mitigation in WA

A group of concerned scientists are calling for an independent inquiry into the way Western Australia conducts prescribed burns.

It comes after a recent burn in the South West had catastrophic impacts on the numbat population and its habitat.

Emeritus Professor John Bailey from The Leeuwin Group told Liam Bartlett the current bushfire mitigation system is too intense.

“What the Leeuwin Group is calling for is a return to the sort of burning practices that indigenous people used to employ,” he said.

“So the patches are much smaller, more readily controlled and have lower impacts on the native fauna that might inhabit that area.”

While the group acknowledge there is a place for prescribed burns, he said larger scale burns have major consequences for native animals.

“A large fire means it is harder for the individual animals to escape because there isn’t an unburnt refuge nearby,” he said.

“But also, after the fire there is little for them to eat,  there is little cover so they are then vulnerable to predation by foxes and cats.”

Press PLAY to hear more about the calls for an independent inquiry

In a statement Environment Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said the South West fire is being investigated internally by the DBCA.

“DBCA officers are continuing to investigate the impacts of the fire on wildlife, including the local numbat population and the department is thoroughly reviewing this particular burn,” she said.

“There are lessons to be learned from implementing all our fire mitigation strategies and where problems are identified, I will ask the department to implement improvements.

“Internal reviews are just one way we can continue to improve bushfire mitigation in Western Australia.”

 

(Photo: Bart Lebbing/ Supplied.) 

Liam Bartlett
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