Sarah is a Bushfire CRC Associate Student, completing a Master of Forest Ecosystem Science at the University of Melbourne. Alongside Bushfire CRC researchers Dr Ruth Beilin and Karen Reid, Sarah is completing a research project. titled A culture of burning: local practices and knowledge of roadside fire management in Western Victoria.
Sarah's research focused on investigating local practices and understandings of roadside fire management in the Southern Grampians Shire in western Victoria. In this largely rural, agricultural landscape, roadside burning conducted by local landholders and CFA brigades to create 'strategic fire breaks' has historically formed a major component of local fire risk management. As well as serving to manage fuel hazards and fire risk, this long history of roadside burning is also thought to have inadvertently preserved high conservation value native grasslands in many of these road reserves. However, incremental changes in land use and management approaches and policies at both a local and regional scale, combined with changing social dynamics, is impacting these local roadside fire management practices, posing potential challenges for future fire and conservation management.
This research project looked to understand how land and fire managers construct meaning and ideas of risk around, and attach values to, roadside reserves, and provide insight into the ways in which these local forms of knowledge and understanding intersect with changing bushfire management policies and conservation values to influence local approaches to roadside fire management.
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