The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Drone-bombing trial success

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Wimmera parkland has provided the setting for a successful airborne trial of managing planned ecological burns that saves time and reduces risk to firefighte­rs.

Forest Fire Management Victoria crews have used a remote-control drone aircraft to drop aerial incendiari­es to establish a burn in a targeted area of Grampians National Park.

The crews have worked with a licensed drone operator on a project designed to increase burn accuracy and save crews time from navigating difficult terrain by foot.

Authoritie­s identified a 3000-hectare ecological burn site near Halls Gap as ideal for the drone trial due to thick vegetation, intersecti­ng drainage lines and creek system – which all make it difficult for crews to access.

Every year since 2017, FFMVIC crews have carried out the burn, which aims to create a patchy mosaic of burnt and unburnt land to break up the vegetation, encourage regenerati­on and provide habitat for threatened species such as the heath mouse and southern brown bandicoot.

It also promotes the growth of threatened native grasses and orchids and helps to control weeds in the area.

This trial is part of a $517-million State Government 2021-22 Budget investment to fund FFMVIC workers and ensure access to modern technology, fire towers and equipment.

FFMVIC works closely with the Bureau of Meteorolog­y to assess weather conditions, such as humidity, temperatur­e and wind speed – and only carries out burns when conditions are suitable.

Victorian Energy, Environmen­t and Climate Change Minister Lily D’ambrosio said by improving practices and trialling new technology, the government could establish effective planned-burn programs to protect communitie­s and the environmen­t from bushfires.

“Climate change and more extreme weather events are changing the nature of bushfires, so it’s important we take action now to minimise risk to human life and our native wildlife,” she said.

Upper House Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford added: “It’s great to see our local crews exploring innovative ways to improve the efficiency and effectiven­ess of planned burning. This work will help to protect our treasured natural environmen­t and improve bushfire safety.”

People can find out the latest informatio­n about planned burns online at ffm.vic.gov.au/plannedbur­n, download a Vicemergen­cy app or call the Vicemergen­cy hotline on 1800 226 226.

 ?? ?? ON A MISSION: Forest Fire Management Victoria crew members launch an incendiary-loaded drone as part of a planned-burn trial.
ON A MISSION: Forest Fire Management Victoria crew members launch an incendiary-loaded drone as part of a planned-burn trial.

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