Record-breaking year for South Australian prescribed burns

Monday 21 June, 2021

Recent rains have signaled the end of a record-breaking year of prescribed burns for SA with The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) successfully completing 49 prescribed burns this autumn, making it a record 96 for the year.

The previous record number of burns before this year was 88 back in 2011-12. Across the state the 2020/21 burns program saw a 53 per cent increase from the 2019/20 season – with 6261 hectares burned compared to 4091 hectares.

Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs the Marshall Liberal Government committed a record $37 million over five years to significantly increase hazard reduction across the state as part of the $97.5 million response to the Keelty Review into last season’s catastrophic bushfires.

“Fire hazard reduction can make bushfires easier to control, helping prevent a bushfire spreading and ultimately saving lives and property,” Minister Speirs said.

“Prescribed burning is also used for ecological reasons such as protecting and maintaining animal habitats, regenerating plant species and improving biodiversity.

“Mick Keelty’s Independent Review of South Australia’s 2019/20 bushfire season highlighted the importance of undertaking hazard reduction on both public and private land.

“This is why we have committed record funding to significantly increase the amount of prescribed burns we are doing particularly in the Adelaide Hills and on Kangaroo Island.

“We take a long-term approach to fire hazard reduction but to achieve a 53 per cent increase in the amount of area burnt this season compared to last is a pleasing result.

“A cooler than average autumn meant there was an extended window of suitable weather and we made sure fire management crews took advantage of this.

“While it is impossible to eliminate the threat of bushfires, prescribed burns are one proactive action we can undertake to reduce fuel loads across the landscape, which help reduce the intensity and spread of fires, and provide safer access corridors for our dedicated CFS and MFS personnel.

“A key component of our increased hazard reduction program is focussed on private land because we know that fires don’t stop at fence lines so it’s important to work in partnership.”

Minister for Emergency Services, Vincent Tarzia, said nothing is more important than protecting lives and protecting property.

"The Marshall Government is delivering a more bushfire resilient South Australia to keep our community safe and strong," Minister Tarzia said.

Twelve burns were completed on private lands this autumn in partnership with the CFS and private landholders, and this program will continue to expand on Kangaroo Island in the coming seasons.

Some burning may continue further into the season and over winter if conditions allow.

NPWS staff also contributed to bushfire response supporting CFS by attending 37 bushfires in 2020-21 on both private and public lands, as well as maintaining fire tracks and reducing fuel hazards mechanically where appropriate.