Community tells royal commission more fuel reductions and buffer zones are needed

Land management was a key issue raised at community forums held by the federal bushfire royal commission.
Land management was a key issue raised at community forums held by the federal bushfire royal commission.

Better land management including fuel reductions and buffer zones to protect economic assets, were points raised at community forums held by the federal bushfire royal commission.

The topics were brought to the table by community, local government and industry at forums held in both the Snowy Valleys Shire and Bega Valley Shire in the last week.

Farmer Alan Becke has a cattle property north of Tumbarumba that lost livestock, sheds, fencing and 90 per cent of its pasture during the Dunns Road bushfire.

Mr Becke said he brought up atthe Tumbarumba forum that there needed to be a buffer zone between pine plantations.

"We have got to address some of the problems that were identified during the bushfire and one of those was that a lot of the forestry areas are planted too close to infrastructure and other properties and there's no buffer zone," he said after the forum.

"I believe there should be a buffer zone of up to 100 metres, particularly for pine plantations as they proved to be very flammable."

Bega Valley Shire Council mayor Kristy McBain said public land management was important in their region with more than 70 per cent of their shire made up of crown land, National Parks, state forest or council land.

"Over a number of years there's been a centralisation of forestry and National Park jobs into metropolitan areas," Cr McBain said.

"We need people on the ground to manage the large estates that they have here.

"My understanding is National Parks haven't been doing a lot management of their parks in terms of fire risk and fire potential."

Cr McBain said they were also advocating for funding for indigenous groups to manage their own land.

Royal commission chair Mark Binskin told forums that they were not a formal hearing but would shape how the inquiry was run.

"The commission is here because we want to hear personal experiences with different perspectives through different lenses and insights into the coordination, preparedness and planning in relation to natural disasters."

The commission's website states arrangements for the rest of the scheduled community forums are being revised due to coronavirus.