SA Country Fire Service

Media release

Residents struggle to balance bushfire risk with biodiversity


Recent studies by the University of Adelaide and UniSA have found many residents in South Australia won't sacrifice biodiversity for bushfire mitigation.

Researchers undertook surveys in 2014 and 2015, with residents of the Sampson Flat fire also interviewed.

The study, led by the University of Adelaide's Adjunct Professor Guy Robinson and Dr Douglas Bardsley, found residents were hesitant to clear properties of fuel due to the fear of losing native plants and animals.

"It is clear that most residents in the Mount Lofty Ranges and Lower Eyre Peninsula are not willing to sacrifice local biodiversity to mitigate bushfire risk," Professor Robinson said.

CFS Manager for Preparedness Leigh Miller said lowering bushfire risk on your property can simply mean raking leaf litter and fine fuels under existing trees so fire doesn't have a clear path to your home.

"There are some really simple things people can do to make their properties more bushfire ready, and it doesn't mean clearing their block of all trees and shrubs," Mr Miller said.

"Clearing gutters and cutting overhanging tree branches on your home will help protect your home if a bushfire does start."

Dr Bardsley's research also showed a worrying trend that residents were not preparing for drier climates.
"Around the world hotter, drier and windier conditions are generating severe wildfires that are more difficult to fight.

"Preparation becomes more important for individuals and the community as a whole," he said.

CFS has led a statewide move to map all assets including energy and water sources, natural and historic landmarks in order to protect such assets should a fire start.

The Bushfire Management Area Planning is almost finished with only the outback district to be finalised.

All of the planning has been undertaken in conjunction with local council and public consultation.

More on the CFS website

Dr Bardsley said respondents believed that an increased risk of bushfires was something the next generation would be affected by.

"People need to understand that bushfire risks are increasing already and plan their household responses in association with that risk.

*** Interview talent available Friday morning, 8 November 2017
- CFS Director of Preparedness, Leigh Miller (via CFS Media Line - 08 8115 3531)
- University of Adelaide, Dr Douglas Bardsley - 08 8313 4490

Media information
For media enquiries call the CFS Media Line on 08 8115 3531.

Government of South Australia