March 2013 Field Day

Glenn O’Rourke from the RFS at Wollombi gave a very relevant talk on preparing for bush fires to 20 members.  He covered four areas:

1.       Understanding risk

2.       Fire danger ratings and alerts

3.       Survival decisions and

4.       Property preparation

There is evidence that bush fires are increasing in severity, and hence a new rating has been introduced: “catastrophic”.  On catastrophic days, no properties can be defended, and it is necessary to leave the area early.  Knowing the Fire Danger Rating can be obtained from TV, radio (local ABC), Internet (RFS site), mobile phones and GPS.  A bush fire survival plan is necessary including ways to evacuate: the RFS web site has a guide.  Property preparation is to reduce the fuel around buildings.  On flat ground 20 metres of slashing and removing the fuel is required: for slopes, 50-90 metres would be required.  One clear message is that it is not appropriate to ignore the risk of fires and land holders must have a plan, even if there has been no fire for many years: recall Canberra and Victorian fires.

After lunch, members looked at Pierre Louys’ property near Wards River.  Pierre has had the property for 7 years and initially purchased it for environmental reasons.  But after courses on managing private native forests, he realised that silviculture was required to allow the better trees to prosper.  One area has been harvested and the remainder left alone: 3 trees were measured in each site in 2009 and members measured the diameters in 2013.  Two trees in the harvested site grew faster than those in the other site, while data was missing on the 3rd treee.

Hunter Farm Forestry Network (HFFN) facilitates the exchange of information related to farm forestry; and promotes the productive and sustainable use of trees on farms in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, Australia.

Simon White



Jodan Hanbury-Brown



Trevor Woolley



Ishbel Searle