Over 65 local and state government representatives, academics and community groups met in Katoomba, New South Wales, to develop new approaches to longer, more intense bushfire seasons fuelled by climate change at a forum hosted by the Cities Power Partnership.
Attendees such as Huon Valley Council, Tasmania and Blue Mountains City Council, New South Wales are all familiar with the intensifying threat that has devastated their local communities.
Tim McNaught, Director, Office of Bushfire Risk Management, Western Australia said that local governments can and should play a role in helping residents to understand the growing bushfire risks that come with Australia’s rapidly changing climate.
“In my experience, it is councils like Shire of Manjimup and Shire of Jerramungup, that have strong relationships with state land management, emergency services agencies and local volunteer bushfire brigades that are best able to effectively communicate this risk to their communities.
“These close relationships also give way to collaborative strategies to mitigate bushfire risk both from a preparedness and prevention perspective, right through to bushfire response,” said McNaught.
The Cities Power Partnership, Australia’s largest local government climate alliance, has called on local councils to adopt recommendations to support communities to understand and prepare for longer, more dangerous bushfire seasons, including:
- Educating communities on the increased bushfire risk so they can make informed decisions about purchasing, building and renovating their homes in fire danger zones.
- Rigorously enforcing local laws on maintaining fire-breaks, low vegetation and property clearing.
- Using bushfire risk maps to inform planning permission decisions.
Former NSW Fire & Rescue Commissioner and Climate Councillor Greg Mullins, highlighted the importance of all councils working with fire services to identify areas of high bushfire risk, and managing that risk through planned burning, slashing or mulching.
Increasing bushfire threat means that there is an urgent need for more collaboration between fire authorities, landowners, land managers, planning authorities, local councils and communities,” said Mullins.
Climate Councillor and ecologist Professor Lesley Hughes warned local governments that bushfire seasons are only set to get longer and more dangerous unless urgent action is taken to tackle climate change.
“Intensifying climate change is driving Australia’s escalating bushfire threat, creating longer and more dangerous fire seasons than ever before and 2018 was no exception across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania.
“It’s imperative that all levels of government commit to swift and meaningful action to drive down Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the climate impacts that put our community at risk of more frequent and intense bushfires.”
COUNCILS TAKING PART
New South Wales
Bega Valley Shire Council
Blacktown City Council
Blue Mountains City Council
Central Coast Council
City of Canterbury-Bankstown
Hawkesbury City Council
Hornsby Shire Council
Lake Macquarie City Council
North Sydney Council
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council
City of Ryde
Strathbogie Shire Council
Huon Valley Council
For more information contact Victoria Fratin, Media Advisor on 0487 003 872 or [email protected]
About the Cities Power Partnership
The Cities Power Partnership is a free national program created by the Climate Council that celebrates and accelerates the pollution reduction and clean energy successes of Australia in towns and cities.
Local governments who join the partnership pledge to take 5 key actions across renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport and working together.