Pyalong Recreation Reserve trees

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Consultation has concluded

Some Pyalong community members have raised concerns about the potential fire risk of vegetation from pine trees on the southern side of the Pyalong Recreation Reserve (West Road).

In response, Council sought specialist advice about the plantation, the level of risk it presented and whether removal of the trees was warranted.

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) was engaged to conduct a fire risk assessment which concluded that the risk from the plantation was low and that reducing ground-level fuel rather than removal of the pine trees would mitigate the low risk.

Council is now seeking community input on three options for the plantation:

  1. Take no action
  2. Ground-level fuel reduction and uplift works (removal of pine tree branches up to two metres from ground level)
  3. Full removal of all 291 trees

Council is now seeking community input on the three options to help determine a preferred approach.

Survey closes 21 September 2020.

Some Pyalong community members have raised concerns about the potential fire risk of vegetation from pine trees on the southern side of the Pyalong Recreation Reserve (West Road).

In response, Council sought specialist advice about the plantation, the level of risk it presented and whether removal of the trees was warranted.

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) was engaged to conduct a fire risk assessment which concluded that the risk from the plantation was low and that reducing ground-level fuel rather than removal of the pine trees would mitigate the low risk.

Council is now seeking community input on three options for the plantation:

  1. Take no action
  2. Ground-level fuel reduction and uplift works (removal of pine tree branches up to two metres from ground level)
  3. Full removal of all 291 trees

Council is now seeking community input on the three options to help determine a preferred approach.

Survey closes 21 September 2020.

Consultation has concluded
  • Get involved

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    30 July, 2020

    Due to COVID restrictions, we are limited in what activities we can carry out in person. A fact sheet and survey has been mailed to Pyalong properties.

    There are a number of ways you can find out more or provide input.

    • Read the summary here or download our summary fact sheet
    • Read the full reports for more information if needed
    • Take our online survey or fill in the hard copy survey
    • Contact Council directly on 5734 6200 to discuss the project in more detail or ask any questions you may have.

    If there is enough interest, we can host an interactive online information session where the CFA can discuss the report, you can ask questions and then you can let us know your preferred option once you’ve had a chance to review the information.

    Need hard copies sent? Please call us on 5734 6200 to arrange for hard copy reports or surveys.

  • Background

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    29 July, 2020
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    There is a substantial plantation of mature pine trees located along West Road and Northern Highway frontage of the Pyalong Recreation Reserve. In addition to the pines, there are a small number of indigenous trees throughout the plantation.

    Residential housing and the Pyalong Primary School are located directly across from the reserve on West Road. The Pyalong township is principally spread to the south and east of the reserve.

    Some members of the Pyalong community expressed its concerns about bushfire risk with the reserve’s proximity to the school and houses, and its status as a Neighbourhood Safer Place – Bushfire Place of Last Resort.

    In 2019, the place-based community planning pilot project clarified and identified the level of community concern the pine plantation presented to the community.

    As part of the community facilitation element of this project, Council convened an internal working group to investigate the bushfire risk and the associated costs for mitigation.

  • External and specialist advice

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    29 July, 2020

    Country Fire Authority

    The CFA conducted a detailed assessment to identify risk from the plantation and to recommend mitigation actions using the following approach and considerations.

    • A calculation based on the Bushfire Attack Assessment standard tool (also used for
    • assessing Neighbourhood Safer Places – Bushfire Places of Last Resort and Bushfire Attack Levels
    • for construction).
    • The vegetation is classified as “Forest” which equates to a fuel load of 35 tonnes per hectare. It is noted that the plantation is not forest, however a ‘Forest” classification was used and provided a worst-case scenario to conduct the assessment
    • Noting the Pyalong Primary School buildings are over 100 metres from the plantation, this means radiant heat exposure is reduced.
    • Modelling using two Fire Danger Index (FDI) scenarios; 100 FDI (Code Red) and 120 FDI
    • (Code Red).
    • A fuel load assessment for the reserve using a standard overall fuel hazard assessment.
    • A desktop fire behaviour modelling exercise.

    Assessment outcomes

    • A fuel load hazard assessment rating of ‘Moderate’.
    • The fire behaviour assessment indicates a ‘low likelihood’ and ‘low consequence’ from ignition in the plantation area.
    • At a Fire Danger Index of 100 or more on a Code Red Day, the CFA assessment of the school site did not consider the buildings as high risk as they are well under the threshold of 10Kw/m2.

    Based on the assessment, the CFA report recommends removal of ground fuels under the pines (i.e. windfall limbs and understorey plantings); and ‘uplifting’ via removal of pine tree branches up to two metres from ground level.

    Conclusion

    • While the plantation vegetation is not without bushfire risk, the assessments show the likelihood of fire and the level of radiant heat impacting the school on a Code Red Day is low.
    • The recommended maximum radiant heat levels for sheltering in place within a building is 10 kW/m2 or less.
    • Noting, that the school would not be operational or occupied on a declared Code Red day, complete removal of the plantation is not required from a bushfire risk perspective.

    PowerCor

    PowerCor conducted an on-site inspection to check span compliance and to identify any hazardous trees. They concluded that there was no need for tree removal works from a power asset protection or hazard reduction perspective. PowerCor has a regular inspection program.

    Department of Education and Training (DET)

    Summary advice includes:

    • The Pyalong Primary School risk assessment conducted by DET determined the school would close on Code Red days.
    • Their bushfire risk assessment is based on a range of factors. The proximity of the pine plantation is not a key consideration.
  • Options and CFA recommendation

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    29 July, 2020

    Options

    The working group has considered three options:

    Option 1: Take no action

    Based on the low likelihood of fire and low consequence from ignition, do nothing

    Option 2: Undergrowth management and some tree works

    Remove undergrowth and undertake works on trees to reduce risks from uplift (removal of pine tree branches up to two metres from ground level)

    Option 3: full tree removal

    Remove 291 trees and conduct weed management and revegetation works


    Option One

    Take no action

    Take no action to reduce ground level fuel or remove pine trees.

    CFA fire risk assessment indicates a low likelihood and low consequence from ignition.

    Community will continue to perceive the vegetation as a fire risk.


    Option Two

    Undergrowth management and some tree works

    Arborist assessment and tree management plan for the assessment of 291 trees

    Uplift and clean up of 291 trees as per CFA recommendation

    Carry out of critical removal works as determined by Arborist Assessment

    Carry out of recommendations as determined by the Tree Management Plan relating to any future operational expenditure

    Minimal works ongoing to manage fuel levels and weed management


    Option Three

    Full tree removal

    291 trees removed, stump removal and burn

    Weed Management and Revegetation Plan which is likely to include detailed landscape plans, weed management activities, plantings and a two-year landscape maintenance and defects liability period

    Project management and community engagement undertaken by council
    Ongoing maintenance of this area of the recreation reserve



    CFA RECOMMENDATION

    CFA recommended that Council consider Option Two as the most appropriate option to achieve risk mitigation and help address community concerns about fire risk.