Local News

Call For Legislative Change to Allow More Burn Offs

kangaroo island

A landowner in Kangaroo Island said he is concerned that environmental protection laws are preventing locals from being able to do burn offs ahead of the next bushfire season.

A Senate Committee visited the island on Tuesday 29 September to investigate the country's “faunal extinction crisis” and the impact of the region’s bushfires on vulnerable species.

Among the participants were farmers, tourism operators, foresters and environmentalists .

Beekeeper Peter Davis from the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board said that current legislation, including the Native Vegetation Act and Wilderness Act are preventing park managers and landowners from burning off or clearing vegetation.

“It is supposed to be there for the protection of the environment but what they've done is they've prevented landowners from using fire as a management tool without drawing up a very complex plan and getting approval ," he said.

The Native Vegetation Act (1991) and the  Wilderness Protection Act (1992) aim to ensure that areas of high conservation value are protected, and that clearances are subject to a thorough assessment process.

Environment Minister David Speirs said there is no need for legislative change as there is nothing to stop landholders from applying with the CFS or his department from conducting a burn off.

"Get in touch with the local CFS brigade, they will have an officer who is able to provide that advice and this should be fairly easy," Minister Speirs.

Mick Keelty's review into the latest bushfire season suggests that one of the biggest challenges in tackling future bushfire events is to educate landholders on their rights as many believe applying for burn offs on their land is much more difficult than it actually is.

The State Government is increasing prescribed burns around private and public land in SA by as much as 50 per cent with an extra $35 million being invested over five years, which will also go towards education for landholders.

Photo of Kangaroo Island by Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble, cc-by-2.0, Flickr