Dear Minister Lily D'Ambrosio,
Climate change is making our fire seasons longer and more intense.
I appreciate that your government has responded to this threat, with additional funding for fire fighting efforts, and a quick response to the findings of the Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM) investigation into the 2019/20 bushfires.
With growing threats caused by more frequent fires, it is clear that entire vegetation communities are now at risk. Your government’s program to aerial seed Alpine Ash is helping to keep that species – and the animals that rely on it – from ecological collapse.
It now seems that Snow Gums are facing the same threats that triggered the need to intervene to protect Alpine Ash. Across the Victorian mountains we are seeing localised collapse of Snow Gum woodlands because climate driven fires are occurring too frequently.
Climate change is also turbo charging another threat to the Snow Gum: dieback caused by a native beetle is spreading throughout the Alps, causing further loss of Snow Gums.
The best option if we want to head off this collapse of the Snow Gum communities is to exclude fire as they recover. This will require:
A rapid ecological assessment of the threats posed by fire and dieback to Snow Gum communities.
- Ongoing funding for Forest Fire Management Victoria, including additional funding for remote area firefighting teams.
Continued support for air capacity to fight fires, including establishing a publicly owned air fleet, as was recommended by the Bushfire Royal Commission. This is the responsibility of the federal government.
- Creation of volunteer remote area firefighting teams, as NSW, the ACT and Tasmania have done.
- A commitment to ensure we have sufficient fire fighting resources to protect fire sensitive communities like Alpine Ash, Snow Gums, Alpine Peatlands and Rainforest even during summers like 2019/20.
I urge you to consider these recommendations.