It might come as a surprised to some that Forestry Corporation has its own fire fighters to conduct hazard reduction burns or combat blazes in South East NSW.
On Monday, April 11, 10 of the corporation’s fire fighters were conducting a 1200ha hazard reduction burn in Nullica State Forest, west of Eden.
“Most of the blokes on today’s hazard reduction burn have 20-years plus of experience in the industry,” protection planner for the South Coast protection area Rob Young said.
“So that’s about 200 years of combined experience on today’s hazard reduction burn.”
It was the seventh day of operations for the crew, but they aimed to have it completed by April 13 depending on the weather.
Setting up a hazard reduction burn is no simple task as Mr Young, who has a Bachelor of Science Forestry degree from the Australian National University, had spent six months planning for the burn.
This area of the forest had been “intensively surveyed”, he said, taking into account the region’s flora and fauna, cultural heritage as well how much fine fuel was on the ground.
The burns were taking place to protect the township of Eden, as Mr Young said if a wildfire was to approach the town it would most likely come from a north-westerly to a south-westerly direction.
The aim was to burn 70 per cent of the fine fuel – twigs and leaves – on the forest’s ground while leaving the overstorey unscortched.
This was to provide unburnt areas for fauna to move into, with different parts of the forest lit at different times so the fauna had the chance to make the move.
Some of the parameters the crew had to take into account were fuel moisture, wind, temperature and relative humidity – all needing to come together to make a good burn.
Mr Young said it had been about 17 years since the area the Forestry Corporation’s crew was in last had a hazard reduction operation, and one would not be performed on the same site for another seven.
He said Forestry Corporation was not just about logging, it also provided services for the community such as hazard reduction burns, fighting wildfires, maintaining the road and trail network through state forests, noxious weed and feral animal control as well as cultural heritage management.
“We are proud of what we do,” Mr Young said.
“We are ‘salt of the earth’ people – and if we’re not working in the forests then more than likely we are taking our recreation time in them.”