THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF PRESCRIBED BURNING
One of the contentious issues to do with fire management is the relative costs of bushfire mitigation measures as opposed to the costs of bushfire suppression. The cost of suppression of a bushfire varies greatly, depending on its size and the actual suppression technique used. The more use is made of very expensive water bombers, the greater will be the cost. Clearly, if we can keep fuel loads at a low level so that their use can be minimised, or eliminated, then our suppression costs can be much lower.
The BFF strongly supports economic analyses of alternative approaches to bushfire management and encourages further studies of this kind.
In 2016 a group from the University of Western Australia carried out an economic assessment of bushfire risk management options for two case study regions : the Perth Hills and the South West forested region. The objective was to determine which fire management option provided the best value for money.
In the Perth Hills, due largely to the higher value of property, they found that the best value was given by planning changes that minimised the area exposed to high fire hazards. However, the study recognised that the fire risk also needed to be reduced by prescribed burning.
In the South West, however, because the proportion of forested land was much higher, increased prescribed burning provided by far the best value for money.