Tuesday 26 September 2023

Bushfire preparedness is a 365-day a year job

Australia’s inaugural National Bushfire Preparedness Summit is a timely reminder that being bushfire ready is a 365-day a year job, the President of Forestry Australia Dr Michelle Freeman said.

“It’s great to see the national spotlight on the critically important issue of bushfire preparedness, but this must be more than just a two-day flash in the pan,” Dr Freeman said.

“Being bushfire ready doesn’t happen overnight, it is a 365 day a year job that demands a long-term commitment to evidence-based approaches.

“To protect human life and forest biodiversity, fire must be strategically planned and managed at a landscape scale and over long timeframes.

“Fire in forests must be supported by legislation, government policy, and ongoing research.

“Fire must be managed by professionally trained, experienced, and accredited forest managers in partnership with Traditional Custodians, not just emergency service or defence agencies.”

Forestry Australia Science Policy Adviser Dr Tony Bartlett is attending the National Bushfire Preparedness Summit to advocate Forestry Australia’s Forest Fire Management Position Statement, which includes:

  • Regardless of tenure, all land managers should actively manage forests and rangelands to minimise the risk of, and undesirable impacts from, severe bushfires on environmental, social, cultural and economic values.
  • Greater awareness within communities is needed that fire has an important and ongoing role in maintaining biodiversity and ecological processes in Australian forests and rangelands.
  • Land managers should facilitate increased engagement and empowerment of Traditional Custodians to implement cultural burning practices integrated with evidence-based approaches to achieve more ecologically sensitive and culturally appropriate approaches to forest fire management.
  • Forest fire management strategies and programs should be prepared at the landscape level based on the best available information about fire behaviour and appropriate fire regimes for maintaining forest ecosystem health. They should apply the principles of ‘prevent, prepare, manage’; relying on ‘response and recovery’ only as needed.
  • Landowners need a long-term commitment to implement the strategies documented in the National Bushfire Management Policy Statement for forests and rangelands. Their progress towards meeting the national goals should be reviewed annually using a consistent national framework of key performance indicators relevant to Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound objectives.
  • Protection of plantations from bushfires must be a high priority in bushfire management strategies and responses.
  • Increased investment in prevention and preparedness activities is essential to achieve enhanced management of fire in the landscape and address the increased risk of more frequent and severe bushfires.


Forestry Australia is an independent professional association of more than 1,200 forest scientists, managers and growers who work in native forests, plantations and provision of environmental services. Its members are committed to the principles of sustainable forest management and applying these principles to generate environmental, social and economic outcomes in all types of forests and land tenures.


Michelle has a double degree in Science (Ecology) and Forestry, and a PhD from the University of Melbourne. Her PhD was in partnership with CSIRO Darwin looking at savanna fire and tree dynamics of northern Australia, as part of the Tiwi Carbon Study. She has worked in timber harvesting operations, forest management planning and regulation in Victoria and New South Wales and is currently a forest and land management consultant.

For further information:
Danielle McKay
Mobile: 0438 390 273