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State Government must urgently mitigate bushfire risk at Ocean Grove Nature Reserve

The lack of adequate management of the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve poses a considerable bushfire risk and immediate action is required.

I call on the State Labor Government and local MP Lisa Neville to take immediate action to remove all of the debris in the Reserve including the dead trees.  The Reserve is inundated with an enormous volume of fallen timber and branches which litter the entirety of the 143 hectare Reserve.

There have been only three hazard reduction burns in 13 years.

While a community meeting involving the CFA, Parks Victoria, Forest Fire Management Victoria and the City of Greater Geelong committed to a mulching program, tougher action is required.

There is also a section of land adjacent to the Reserve and backing onto residential homes which needs urgent action.

The lack of a concrete plan to reduce fuel loads and the absence of a timetable for any potential future works is concerning, with only minor mulching and fuel removal works funded until June this year.

This week, I visited the Reserve and discussed these concerns with local residents Max and Laura, whose properties are situated close to the reserve.

Local resident Laura believes that the Reserve is “ripe for catastrophe and it needs some work done” while Max stated that the level of fuel in the Reserve is “urgent to take care of in some way and has got to an unacceptable level of hazard for humans and animals living here and it should have been dealt with long ago”.

The land management failure I witnessed at the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve is completely unacceptable.

If there is no fuel, there is no fire.

I welcome the Prime Minister’s suggestion that a national strategy on hazard reduction may be required.

22 January 2020

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