Mechanical Bushfire Fuel Load Reduction Programme

​​National Bushfire Mitigation Programme

The National Bushfire Mitigation Programme (NBMP) provided $15 million over three years to states and territories to implement long-term bushfire mitigation strategies and improved fuel reduction activities. The programme is an Australian Government Election Commitment (2013).

Of the $15 million programme funding, $1.5 million was allocated to undertake mechanical fuel load reduction trials as a bushfire mitigation measure.

The NBMP links into broader disaster resilience strategies being implemented by the Attorney-General’s Department.

Mechanical Bushfire Fuel Load Reduction Trials

The Australian Government is providing $1.5 million, under a National Partnership with the NSW Government, to undertake the trials ($1 million in 2015-16 and $500 000 in 2016-17).

The trials aim to establish whether mechanical thinning of forests can reduce bushfire risk in an economical, socially acceptable and environmentally sound manner around key assets, such as conservation areas or townships, where prescribed burning is undesirable for a range of reasons.

The trials will gather scientific, cost-benefit and social attitude evidence from a variety of forest types across Australia.

Governance structure

The NSW Government has agreed to manage the project, with advice provided by an Oversight Committee, which managed the governance and selection of trials.

The committee is made up from members of the:

  • Australian Forests Products Association
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Forest Fire Management Group
  • NSW Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development (known as the NSW Department of Industry).

The Oversight Committee formed a Technical Working Group of forest fire experts, including land and bushfire managers and bushfire mitigation academics. The working group provides technical advice to the committee.

Trial locations and consultancies

Expressions of interest for trial sites closed on 1 April 2016 with the Oversight Committee recommending to successful tenderers to the NSW Department of Industry.

Three trial locations and providers have been contracted:

  • the Mid-North Coast of NSW trials will be delivered by NSW Forestry Corporation
  • the East Gippsland Victoria trials will be delivered by VicForests, and
  • the south west region of Western Australia trials will be delivered by the University of the Sunshine Coast in partnership with the Forest Products Commission Western Australia, the Department of Parks and Wildlife Western Australia, and Western Australia Plantation Resources.

In addition, consultants have also been contracted to determine whether Mechanical Bushfire Fuel Reduction, compared to fuel reduction burning, is:

  • acceptable to the community
  • cost effective
  • mechanically feasible, and
  • reducing fire risk across the landscape.
The trials will begin in spring 2016, with results expected to be delivered to the department in the second half of 2017, depending on fire seasons.

More information

If you need more information, contact the Project Officer in the NSW Department of Industry.

Email: John Samuel
Phone: 02 9842 8589

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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