In places where Council-managed natural areas adjoins urban and semi-rural residential areas, it is important that effective bushfire mitigation measures are put in place - both by Council, residents and other land managers.
Gold Coast City Council is a leader among Queensland local governments in undertaking bushfire mitigation activities in its natural areas. It works closely with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES), including local rural brigades to ensure effective prevention measures are in place.
In addition, Council works closely with the South East Queensland Fire and Biodiversity Consortium (SEQ F&BC) hosted by South East Queensland Catchments, to protect the ecology of its natural areas.
In partnerships with QFES and the SEQ F&BC, Council has developed or is in the process of developing Bushfire Management Plans for high priority Council managed natural areas close to homes and communities.
These plans guide long-term bushfire mitigation and management activities and are developed in consultation with local rural brigades.
In areas where Bushfire Management Plans are not yet finalised, Council undertakes short-term prevention activities in order to protect homes and properties from immediate fire risk. These activities are either mechanical maintenance or hazard reduction burning. Two areas where this has occurred are the Coombabah and Tugun Hill Conservation Areas.
Hazard reduction burn program
Each year Council, in conjunction with QFES, undertake mechanical or hazard reduction burns in key areas to mitigate bushfire risk.
Hazard reduction burns are undertaken to protect nearby properties and structures, by burning ground fuels such as leaf litter and grass. These types of fires are generally 'cool' and are undertaken in appropriate weather conditions so that the fire burns slowly with small flames. At all times, Council will endeavour to balance environmental values and protection with the need to reduce the risk of bushfires to homes, properties and lives.
During the 2014 hazard reduction burn program (May-August) a total of 21 burns are scheduled for Council managed natural areas across the city in the following locations:
Upper Mudgeeraba CA
Wyangan Valley Park
Eagle Heights CA
Tallai Road Reserve
Bromfield Drive Bush Reserve
Coombabah Lakelands CA
Upper Ormeau CA
Skyline Terrace Reserve
Tugun Hill CA
Cobradah Court Reserve
Appolo Place Reserve
The Grange Environmental Park
Council's ability to undertake all of these planned burns prior to the commencement of fire season is weather dependent and whereas all efforts will be made to complete the listed burns for 2014, some may need to be rescheduled for 2015. All nearby residents will be notified via post of controlled burns planned near their properties, so issues such as asthma can be considered.
For further information please contact Paul Whalley, Council QFES Manager Bushfire Planning and Mitigation on (07) 55816 984.
Preparing for bushfire season
Living in a bushland setting poses a risk from bushfire, no matter where you live in Australia. Even here on the Gold Coast the bushfire risk is real and many homes and communities in Gold Coast City neighbour bushfire-prone areas.
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Service is the primary agency responsible for informing the public about bushfire safety.
The PREPARE.ACT.SURVIVE. booklet prepared by the QFES provides essential tips on what you can do to deal with the threats of bushfire at home.
The booklet contains information on the following topics:
- emergency warnings
- fire danger ratings
- bushfire survival plans
- preparation for you, your family and property
- actions to undertake if you decide to stay
- surviving a fire event
- fire bans
- rural fire brigades
This booklet and other important information can be found on the Queensland Rural Fire Service website
Gold Coast Fire Management Group
The Gold Coast Fire Management Group (GCFMG) is a subcommittee of the Regional Inter-Departmental Committee (RIDC). The role of the RIDC is to coordinate and implement the on-ground bushfire strategies and to progress important service delivery issues to the Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) at the state level.
Terms of reference for the GCFMCG
In general the GCFMG reflects the same terms of reference as the IDC and RIDC. GCFMG focuses on local specific issues including:
- providing information, advice and reports to the RIDC on Wildfire Mitigation Coordination and Planning
- providing strategic direction for rural fire brigades and major landholders within the area
- reviewing policies and procedures to ensure inter-agency consistency at the local level
- reviewing operational procedures to ensure effective inter-agency cooperation
- coordinating community engagement and public education across the area.
The GCFMG membership comprises QFES, local land managers and local government representation. Membership may include other interested government agencies and local representatives.
The chair of the FMG rests with QFES.
- Queensland Fire and Emergency Service
- DERM (QPWS Rangers, DERM/USL and foresters)
- local government (environmental, disaster management, works)
- significant land holders
- SEQ Water local representative
Potential other membership:
- Queensland Police Service
- Department of Defence
- Transport and Main Roads local representatives
- Allconnex local representative
The GCFMG provides input to the RIDC. the RIDC will make decisions and feed these decisions back to GCFMG. The input from the GCFMG which incorporates local information and issues will perform a key role in providing direction for the IDC to advise QFES on future bushfire management strategies.
Bushfire management plans
Comprehensive bushfire management plans are being developed for Council-managed bushland reserves. For planning purposes, the reserve network across the city has been grouped into planning area 'clusters'.
Bushfire management plans have been completed for the following planning area in consultation with local Queensland Rural Fire Service Brigades where applicable.
Numinbah Conservation Reserves - Planning A (5.98 MB ) & Planning B (4.68 MB ) and Operations (5.16MB)
Elanora Conservation Reserves - Planning (7.79 MB) and Operations (6.17 MB)
Burleigh Greenspace Conservation Reserves - Planning (3.12 MB) and Operations (1.56 MB)
Lower Beechmont-Mt Nathan Conservation Reserves - Planning (13.6 MB) and Operations (18 MB)
Mudgeeraba Conservation Reserves - Planning (4.17 MB) and Operations (4.75 MB)
Tamborine-Guanaba Conservation Reserves - Planning (15.3 MB) and Operations (12 MB)
Maudsland-Pacific Pines Conservation Reserves - Planning (13.69 MB) and Operations (14.52 MB)
Wongawallan Conservation Reserves - Planning (14.09 MB) and Operations (15.33 MB)
Bonogin Conservation Reserves - Planning (5.46 MB) and Operations (5.08 MB)
Tallebudgera-Currumbin Valleys Conservation Reserves - Planning (4.74 MB) and Operations (5.33 MB)
Coomera Linkage Conservation Reserve - Planning and Operations
Coombabah-Parkwood Conservation Rerserves - Planning and Operations
Yatala Luscombe Bushfire Management Plan - Planning and Operations
Jacobs Well Canelands Bushfire Management Plan - Planning and Operations
Pimpama River Bushfire Management Plan - Planning and Operations
The Springbrook Public Conservation Estate Fire Strategy was an initiative of the Gold Coast City Council, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Queensland Fire and Emergency Service.
The strategy addresses fire management on State Government and Council-managed conservation lands at Springbrook - Springbrook National Park, Numinbah and Austinville Forest Reserves Springbrook, Numinbah, Purlingbrook and Austinville conservation areas. The strategy relates only to public land at Springbrook.
You can download them here: Spring Public Conservation Estate Fire Strategy (2.37 MB) - also see Springbrook Fire Management Zones map (787 KB) and Tracks, infrastructure and fire history maps (3.10 MB)
Frequently asked questions
1. Why is Council clearing or burning in its natural areas?
Council, like all landowners, is responsible for bushfires that occur on its land and spreading to neighbouring property. It is legally required to manage the bushfire hazard at all its properties including conservation zones. While bushfires don't often occur, Council must be prepared and ensure the potential impact to lives, property and the environment is minimised.
2. What is the bushfire risk for Council's conservation and bushland areas?
Council and QFES use hazard mapping to identify areas that have a potential bushfire hazard. This is combined with other assessments to identify the risk for Council's natural area estate. High risk areas are prioritised for hazard reduction burns or other treatments designed to reduce the amount or structure of fuel loads.
3. What is Council going to do/doing to reduce the bushfire risk in its natural areas?
In a number of these areas Council, in consultation with local rural fire brigades has and is continuing to develop Bushfire Management Plans (see management plan section below). These plans combined with risk assessments guide Council's hazard reduction burn program which may involve the following actions:
- creating inner and outer asset protection zones where houses immediately adjoin natural areas
- construction and maintenance of fire trails on public lands to enable access for fire fighting crews in the event of a wildfire
- installing and maintaining water tanks on public land to provide water to fire fighting crews in the event of a wildfire
- management of non-native vegetation that has the potential to increase the fuel load and the bushfire risk
- hazard reduction burning is used in areas where it is too steep to undertake mechanical work or where hazard has to be reduced over larger areas (creating wildfire mitigation zones which reduce the intensity and speed of bushfires)
- providing residents who adjoin Council managed natural areas with information about bushfire management.
At all times, Council will endeavour to balance environmental values and protection with the need to reduce the risk of bushfires to homes, properties and lives.
4. What impact will there be on the environment in these areas? What will happen to the animals like the koala that lives out the back?
There will be some impact in the inner and outer asset protections zones with the clearing of groundcover, shrubs and small trees. The area will have a more park-like appearance.
Council's rangers and/or a licensed wildlife spotter/catcher will be onsite when necessary during Council's vegetation management work in order to ensure that impacts to wildlife are managed appropriately.
Most of the land area of Council's natural areas will be retained in their current natural state. In some areas vegetation restoration techniques will be used to increase canopy cover and reduce weeds.
When hazard reduction burning is used, the fires are planned for weather conditions where a 'cool' fire burns the vegetation in a patchy or incomplete pattern. These fires also burn slowly and with much lower flames than in wildfire conditions thus giving wildlife opportunity to escape to unburned patches.
Council staff attend hazard reduction burns to monitor and record fire and weather behaviour.
5. How often will Council be doing this work?
In areas where mechanical maintenance is required, Council has a program of maintaining identified asset protection zones and fire trails on a regular basis. Sites for hazard reduction burning are identified annually in joint planning with the QFRS.
6. Can residents do anything to help prevent bushfires in these areas?
Yes. You can help by ensuring your own property is bushfire ready by seeking information from QFES about the PREPARE.ACT.SURVIVE. booklet prepared by the Queensland Rural Fire Service and available for download on its website.
Further bushfire management planning information
For further information please contact Rodney Anderson, Council's Bushfire Management Planner on 5581 1521, or email@example.com
For further information on our key programs and works, follow the links below.