The Hon Amber-Jade Sanderson
Minister for the Environment
Dumas House, West Perth, WA
Bushfire management in south-west forests
Thank you for your letter (reference 76-05152, dated November 2, 2021). It was pleasing to read your commitment
that “there is no change to, and no intention to change, the policy settings around prescribed burning carried out
by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA)”.
We also note your statement that “Prescribed burning remains one of the most important tools in reducing
combustible fuel and the risk to our community and environment”.
I have circulated your letter, highlighting these commitments, to our membership and to associated organisations
and colleagues, in WA, NSW and Victoria, and will ensure it is posted on our website.
The Bushfire Front has not become involved in the controversy about timber harvesting from native forests, other
than to point out that the new policy will impact negatively on bushfire management. We will try to deal with
this through the revision of the Forest Management Plan. A primary concern to us was that the decision about
timber harvesting was justified by reference to the community attitudes survey conducted by the WA Biodiversity
Science Institute. This survey also purported to identify concerns about fire management that could translate into
policy changes with far-reaching negative social, financial and environmental consequences.
The WABSI survey was amateurish, superficial and badly designed. It made no allowance for the nuances and
complexities of land and bushfire management. It has damaged the professional reputation of WABSI, and has no
credibility as a basis for future decision-making about life-and-death government policies. We urge you to ignore
any of the survey “findings” in relation to bushfire management.
In the meantime, thank you again for your commitment to the prescribed burning program. At the same time, we
remind you that policy is one thing, but translating policy into action via budgets and priorities is another. DBCA is
years behind in its fuel reduction burning program, and the south-west districts are grossly understaffed and
under-resourced. If their bushfire management work continues to be constrained, the inevitable outcome will be
damaging bushfires, and needless human suffering and environmental degradation.