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If acronyms could put out bushfires we need never worry about catastrophic fires again. SBMP, BOP, RFMP and BPA are just a few of the acronyms thrown around when talking about fire management in the ACT. They have a huge importance in locking us, as a community, into very specific strategies and actions. Slashing, prescribed burns, chemical treatment, grazing, training, access and infrastructure are all covered by a cascade of plans and reports. If you see smoke in autumn on Black Mountain or over Namadgi National Park, that is the SBMP and the BOP and the RFMP in action.

So, how do we as a community make sure we are getting it right? Furious debate has been a feature of fire management for a century or more, particularly our reliance on prescribed burning. Do we have to burn the bush to protect our buildings? Doesn’t that destroy the natural values of our national park and reserves? How do we know where to burn? How often and how hot does it need to be to be effective? Can’t we leave it to the experts, they know what they are doing don’t they?

The controversies around fire management continue unabated among the experts and there are no easy answers to all these questions. One thing we can be sure of though: we all have a responsibility to take part in the debate.

Bushfire Management: “Balancing the Risks” is a two day community symposium on 21 and 22 July 2017 to discuss research, strategies and expectations in fire management in the ACT. The National Parks Association of the ACT is underwriting the event with the assistance of the Conservation Council (ACT) and the support of ACT Parks and Conservation Services and the Emergency Services Agency. It will be of particular interest to members of the Rural Fire Service, Parkcare groups, conservation groups, bush-lovers, and rural leaseholders. All are welcome.

The symposium will listen to experts discuss existing fire management practices, the underlying values in the community towards fire management and new and evolving research. The last session will draw all this together to inform the processes of developing long term fire management plans for 2019-2024 and beyond.

A field trip on Sunday 23 July will look at the impacts of fire management on Aranda Bushland.

We look forward to seeing you there, register here.

Videos of Christine Goonrey and Conservation Council Executive Director Larry O’Loughlin

Christine Goonrey- Bushfire Symposium Convenor, Member Bushfire Council, Vice-President, National Parks Association of the ACT.