Bushfire Resilient Communities and Landscapes

A 52 page discussion paper focused on David’s home community of Daylesford and Hepburn where it is already influencing community and local government action.

It covers a wide range of issues relevant to bushfire vulnerable communities in Australia and abroad including psychological and social preparedness through to management of fire prone landscapes. All of these issues are addressed in the context of the wider climate/energy/economic crisis and illustrate permaculture thinking beyond, but including, the garden.

Download the Hepburn Bushfire Plan.

“This document is intended to stimulate discussion toward a whole of community approach to making our communities bushfire resilient both in physical sense and psycho-socially. It focuses on how private preparedness and community organization can be accelerated to complement the professional and volunteer fire services in making our community more resilient in the face of bushfire threat both in the coming season and the longer term. This document is also intended to stimulate similar processes in other towns and settlements in and beyond Hepburn Shire and may be useful in informing planning in areas severely affected by recent fires. Given that many issues of management of public land in and around town are often controversial and that I have considerable knowledge (and passion) about this subject, much of this discussion paper focuses on public land management in and around our community.

Industrialised societies have used fossil-fuelled technology to build resistance (rather than resilience) to stresses from both natural and man-made disasters. Awareness of the likely impacts of Climate Change and Peak Oil have highlighted the strong, but brittle nature of industrial societies and the need to develop more flexibility and resilience in our economies, communities and nations.

David Holmgren “Melliodora” Hepburn July 2009

Table of contents

Summary of Recommendations

Context and Background

  • Black Saturday Fires
  • Climate Change and Peak Oil
  • Hepburn Shire Council
  • History of planning, response and recovery from bushfire in Victoria

Permaculture and Bushfire Resistant Design

  • Melliodora
  • Spring Creek Community Forest
  • Rehydrating Landscapes
  • Bushfire design reviewed

The Key Issues; attitudes, awareness and behaviour

  • Managed Evacuation
  • Stay and Defend or Leave Early
  • Community Fireguard
  • Middle Options
  • “Shelter Safely”
  • Safe House Concept
  • Forest Fire Hazard Index

The Local Situation

  • The Daylesford Fires
  • Town Impact
  • Self Reliant Community or Managed Evacuation?
  • Safe House Opportunities and Criteria

Bushfire resistant house and garden design

  • Design Considerations
  • Construction
  • Vegetation
  • Clean Up Now
  • Bunkum about Bunkers
  • Facing the consequences of our own actions
  • Strategic focus close to home

Water Management for fire resilient landscapes

  • Water Tank storage
  • Dam and wetlands
  • The Hepburn Springs Lake
  • Swales
  • Water Courses

Vegetation and fuel management in adjacent public land

  • The current situation
    • Implications of Principles of Management
  • Questioning Fuel Reduction Burning
    • Ecological Effects of Fuel Reduction Burning
    • Indigenous fire management
  • Options for Forest Management to Reduce Fire Danger
    • Concentration of burning to ridges
    • Thinning of Forests
    • Forest clearing or conversion
  • New livelihood in sustainable local energy production

Governance in a time of crisis

  • Current Public Land Management Policies
    • Doctors Gully Strategic Plan 2009
  • The bigger picture

Addendum One: Resilience, Redundancy and Resistance explained

  • Redundancy
  • Bushfire Resistance Design

Addendum Two: Comparisons with Road Toll

Download the Hepburn Bushfire Plan. Also see David’s presentation at the Sustainable Living Festival in 2010.

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