Almost $1m spent on prescribed burns
Department of Parks and Wildlife is spending almost $1 million a year burning big swaths of the Kimberley despite almost no one living in the affected areas.
The Department of Parks and Wildlife revealed this week that it shelled out an average of $835,000 a year to carry out a prescribed burning program, which covered an area bigger than metropolitan Perth.
Officers for the agency carried out controlled burning mostly by dropping incendiary devices from helicopters and planes. Answers to questions from the
Pilbara News have shed light on the scale of the department’s prescribed burning program in the Kimberley and the reasons for it.
The department said it aimed to burn 30 per cent of the 2.7 million hectares of “conservation suitable land” in the region every year to achieve a “patchwork mosaic of burnt and unburnt habitat”.
A spokeswoman said the burning was done in the dry season to reduce the risks to the area’s unique environment from wildfires in the hot times of the year.
“The Kimberley is renowned for its aesthetic beauty and unique biodiversity,” she said. “Until recently, large unmanaged bushfires were significantly threatening the region’s natural assets.
“Aerial burning is complemented by a ground burning program, which focuses on the protection of assets on the outskirts of towns and within conservation lands, reducing the risk for residents and visitors.”
The answers come as the department scrambles to meet its annual controlled burning program in the South West for only the second time since 2004-05.
Separate figures provided by the agency show it had burnt 162,182ha across the South West as of May 27 — still almost 20 per cent short of its annual target of 200,000ha.
The performance is nevertheless an improvement on last year, when the department burnt 147,082ha and comes amid a $20 million boost to its prescribed burning budget over four years.
Prescribed burns by the Department of Parks and Wildlife in unpopulated parts of the Kimberley are costing almost $1 million.