A drone has successfully started a planned burn in the Grampians National Park, saving time and reducing the risk to firefighters according to the Victorian government.
The use of a drone was part of a trial carried out by Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) crews in the Wimmera, and involved FFMVic crews working with a licensed operator to fly the drone and drop aerial incendiaries to establish the burn.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D'Ambrosio said the drone trial was the next step in improving the effectiveness of planned burns.
"By continuing to improve our practices and trial new technology, we are able to deliver a more effective planned burning program to protect communities and the environment from bushfires," she said.
"Climate change and more extreme weather events are changing the nature of bushfires, so it's important we take action now to minimise risk to human life and our native wildlife."
The trial found the use of drones increased accuracy and saved crews time from navigating the difficult terrain on foot.
The 3000-hectare ecological burn, near Halls Gap, was identified as ideal for the drone trial due to its thick vegetation, intersecting drainage lines and creek system - which make it difficult for crews to access.
Every year since 2017, FFMVic crews carry out the burn, which aims to create a patchy mosaic of burnt and unburnt land to break up the vegetation, encourage regeneration and provide habitat for threatened species, such as the Heath Mouse and Southern Brown Bandicoot.
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It also promotes the growth of threatened native grasses and orchids and helps to control weeds in the area.
Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford said innovation was the best way to lessen the impact of bushfires.
"It's great to see our local Forest Fire Management Victoria crews exploring innovative ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of planned burning," she said.
"This work will help to protect our treasured natural environment and improve bushfire safety."
The trial is part of the Victorian Government's record investment of $517 million in the Victorian Budget 2021/22 to fund FFMVic workers and ensure access to modern technology, fire towers and equipment.
FFMVic works closely with the Bureau of Meteorology to assess weather conditions, such as humidity, temperature, and wind speed - and will only carry out burns when conditions are suitable.
For the latest information about when planned burns are happening near you go to ffm.vic.gov.au/plannedburn, download the VicEmergency app or call the VicEmergency hotline on 1800 226 226.
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