‘Stop’ risky revegetation call

Resat Dajlan, Halit Dajlan, George Key, Jodie Cochrane, Rick Houlihan, Peter Cochrane, Geoff Cochrane with Charlie, Paul Cochrane and Tamara Cochrane with Kimberly near the planting zone. 161130 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Jesse Graham

AN ADVOCACY group has called on DELWP to cease its revegetation along the Yarra River, citing bushfire concerns for the valley if the Yellingbo Conservation Area works continue.
The Yarra Waterways Group released a report on 26 October, outlining concerns about bushfire risk in the Yellingbo Conservation Area, which stretches across the Yarra Valley.
The main concerns arising from the report is the potential bushfire risk from revegetation along the Yarra River, which the group said would pose a risk to nearby residential properties in the event of a bushfire.
Citing fires in previous years along riparian corridors, the group calls on the government to “immediately stop” revegetation within 200 metres of the “identified assets” in the report, including residences, until an independent bushfire risk assessment is completed.
“A serious conflict exists between conservation values imposed by the Yellingbo Conservation Area and the obligation of the state to give priority to the protection of human life and assets from bushfire risks,” the report reads.
Other recommendations include rolling back the boundary of the YCA, installation of access points for the CFA and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) on the Yarra River between Woori Yallock and Millgrove and restricting any future revegetation to outside 200 metres of dwellings, buildings and other public assets.
Group member Peter Cochrane said that bushfire risk was a “major concern” for the group.
“It doesn’t have to be a bushfire that is like Black Saturday, where you know basically concrete burns – even a small fire … has the potential to destroy homes and kill people,” Mr Cochrane said.
“It’s pretty evident that this sort of vegetation they want to plant is dangerous around homes.
“The rule of thumb by all the experts is that it shouldn’t be within 200 metres – you need that space to defend property.”
DELWP’s Port Phillip Regional Director Kelly Crosthwaite said the department took bushfire risk “very seriously”.
“To ensure that bushfire risk in the extended Yellingbo Conservation Area is managed effectively, our first step is to develop a bushfire management plan, that considers all risk factors and recommends mitigating actions,” Ms Crosthwaite said.
“The bushfire management plan process will be community led, with involvement from DELWP, CFA, Parks Victoria and local councils, and supported by an independent facilitator and scientific experts.
“DELWP will continue to engage with the Yarra Waterways Group, and their report will be considered as part of this process and the mitigation measures identified in it will be assessed.”
Ms Crosthwaite said measures would include buffer zones and access tracks, along with assessing which areas of Crown land would be revegetated, and which would require fuel management works.
“DELWP is also working with landholders on an individual basis to determine areas where grazing can be used as a management tool as part of a riparian management licence,” she said.
Ms Crosthwaite said Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio had received the report and would be responding to it.