Campaign to have an independent review into the prescribed burn policy.

By Steve Gates

Dear NRPG members and interested,

A very topical subject – for your information and action/support.

“Fire and Biodiversity WA” (FaBWA) are doing a great job highlighting this issue and we expect there will be a “Fire and Air WA” forum mid-year 2023, to  followup after the very successful Fire and Biodiversity forum in Margaret River.

NRPG also hopes to have an event related to this also at some point this year.

Kind regards,
Steve Gates

President, NRPG Bushcarers

Campaign to bring about change to prescribed burning practices

Nature Reserves Preservation Group City of Kalamunda

Dear Sir/madam,

In 2020, the Nature Reserves Preservation Group City of Kalamunda endorsed a Statement to request a review of the practice of prescribed burning in the south-west of Western Australia. This Statement was endorsed by 37 organisations and was delivered to the Premier, the Minister for Environment, 16 politicians and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) in September 2020.  No action was undertaken by government in response.

The request to endorse the above Statement was made by the Denmark Fire Study Group (DFSG) which in January 2021 changed its name to Fire and Biodiversity WA (FaBWA)

Since then FaBWA have lobbied and had meetings and fieldtrips with politicians, instigated meetings with DBCA managers, monitored burns and areas to be burned, tabled 2 petitions with government, completed a study funded by Humane Society International to investigate the impact of prescribed burns on fauna, hosted a Facebook group with 2600 members, and much more.

The tabling of Petition 029 calling for an independent review into DBCA’s practices of prescribed burning resulted in a hearing by the Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs. Three representatives of FaBWA, four professors of the Leeuwin Group of scientists, one officer of the Department of Emergency Services and two representatives of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions were witnesses at the hearing on the 21st of August 2022. Proceedings can be viewed here. The outcome of this hearing is still pending.

The ABC has been supportive of our concerns about losing our precious ecosystems and have aired many of our reports on the issue: numbat loss of habitat through burn , Are we burning in ignorance? , Scientist’s concern , Landline on burns , Citizen scientist concern , Escaped burn December 2022
Prior to the 2022-2023 fire season, we met with DBCA personnel in the Frankland and Perup regions and showed them direct evidence of environmental damage from their prescribed burns in the field. They acknowledged they could do better, and we were hopeful that we may have had some influence on the reduction of severity of forthcoming burns. Unfortunately, this has not been the case as in all areas of the south-west the size and severity of prescribed burning has been no different to previous years and we continue to witness extensive ecological damage.

The photos below are of the prescribed burn FRK_092 covering 3 forest blocks in the Walpole Wilderness Area (Mt. Roe National Park). The burn escaped the planned 14,801ha fire area resulting in a total burnt area of 25,000ha of core wilderness, including known mainland quokka habitat.

The total amount of burns planned in WA for 2022-2023 burn season can be seen here.

To date, regrettably our collective concerns and actions have fallen on deaf ears.

FaBWA is affiliated with the Denmark Environment Centre Inc. (DEC) and at the last Committee meeting DEC agreed to play a bigger role in the campaign as DEC believes this is the single most negative impact facing our environment and biodiversity and is occurring at an alarming rate and scale.

So far, all of this work has been done by volunteers.

The DEC committee and FaBWA have concluded that to bring about change we need to step up the campaign and increase our activities.

After discussions with other organisations, we feel the only way to do this is to employ more staff and to start this process we are seeking funds to employ an Environmental Campaign Coordinator. DEC has commenced a fund-raising campaign, starting with our membership and an internet-based crowd funding drive: see pozible.

This will add a higher level of professionalism to our campaign, enable us to have a continual presence to inform and educate the public, allow us to maintain strong connections with affiliated groups and more strongly progress our lobbying of government to recognise and act on this issue.

The main aim of this campaign is and will be to convince government to implement an independent review into current practices and to increase public awareness about the negative impacts to biodiversity as a result of the severity, the frequency and the scale of the current prescribed burn policy.

We are writing to organisations within Western Australia and beyond who we think may have concerns about the effectiveness and outcomes of prescribed burns. We would greatly appreciate any support your organisation may be able to provide, either financially or in kind.
We hope you will align and collaborate with us in this campaign to bring about change to the current policy and to give the last remaining wilderness a better future.

All donations over $2 are tax deductible through the Denmark Environment Centre website.

Feel free to share this letter among your contacts.

Hoping to hear from you soon,

Bart Lebbing               Catherine Spaggiari                Jesz Fleming                Angela Tillier

Diane Harwood           Kitty Hertroijs

The Committee of the Denmark Environment Centre

33-35 Strickland St.(PO Box 142) 

Denmark WA

Ph.0477 269 295

[email protected]


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