Victoria faces another February with many of the same underlying bleak fire tragedy conditions faced on Black Saturday: drought, hotter average temperatures and a further build-up of forest fuels from an unchanged prescribed-burning target.
Fire will be inevitable; the only possible variable will be if we experience a severe weather event such as the one that occurred on February 7 last year.
Much has happened on the fire suppression front, with the arrival of an expensive air tanker, improved communications, new command structures, new fire tankers and upgraded Incident Control Centres.
Firebreaks have been constructed for some communities and Neighbourhood Safer Places for some others.
Planning for combating fires has been detailed and intense. Information and warnings for the community are plentiful, if not entirely understood.
Most of this action is necessary, but falls into the category of suppression and safety after fires are already raging.
Where we appear to have not yet learned the lessons of numerous and recurring bushfire tragedies is in the application of the axiom, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The single greatest effect we as a community can have on the immutable fire triangle of temperature, ignition and fuel is the management of bushfire fuel. Yet the prescribed burn target for public land managers, as outlined in the government's budget papers, remains at 130,000ha a year, unchanged for the past five years.
This is despite a recommendation tabled in June 2008, seven months before Black Saturday, by a well-regarded government-led parliamentary inquiry into bushfires, for a trebling of prescribed burning to 385,000ha.
Adoption of this target would see 95 per cent of public land untouched by prescribed burning in any one year. The all-party inquiry took the advice given in evidence by departmental officers responsible for fire management that this was the level of management required to enable some hope of reasonable bushfire control in Victoria's highly flammable forests.
Nobody is under the illusion that increasing the amount of prescribed burning will prevent bushfires, but a substantial and growing volume of research shows unequivocally that reducing the fuel available by cool burning in autumn or spring reduces the speed and intensity of inevitable fires, thereby enabling control.
This is the best management tool we can give land managers if we wish to protect our precious biodiversity and water yield in all catchments from enormous damage by intense conflagrations such as Black Saturday.
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