Nature conservation

Parks, reserves and protected areas

Managing fire in NSW national parks

A photo of a firefighter
Hazard reduction videos

Watch these videos to find out about the National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS) hazard reduction program and meet some of the men and women who work to manage fire in your parks and reserves.

  • Hazard reduction burning program
  • Capability and training
  • Relationships with the community
  • Strategy

    Living with Fire in NSW National Parks – A strategy for managing bushfires in national parks and reserves 2012-2021 provides a statewide approach to managing bushfires in NSW national parks and reserves over the next decade.

    Planned hazard reduction program

    Since 1 July 2016 NPWS has undertaken over 30 hazard reduction burns on park treating 13,300 hectares. An additional 580 mechanical works treated 1130 hectares bringing total hectares treated to 14,470. Hazard reduction will continue during suitable weather conditions that allow us to burn safely and effectively.

    In 2015–16, NPWS treated 203,800 hectares in more than 1518 mechanical and 303 prescribed burning activities. We met our Enhanced Bushfire Management Program commitment of treating more than 135,000 hectares each year as a five-year rolling average. The Remote Area Response Team responded to 100% of remote wildfire within 30 minutes of detection and kept 82% of fires they responded to below 10 hectares in size. The program will be continued during 2016–17.

    Managing wildfires

    Despite managing some of the most rugged and remote lands in New South Wales, NPWS is more than twice as successful as its neighbours in containing wildfires to its boundaries. This is largely because of the strategic nature of its hazard reduction program and the success of its rapid response firefighting crews. These crews are fit and specially trained to respond quickly to lightning strikes and other ignitions in remote areas and have been particularly successful in containing the spread of what could have been potentially very large bushfires. These specially trained staff are strategically located across NSW in conjunction with NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) crews and are winched in to fire sites from helicopters to safely contain bushfires.

    Many farms, communities and urban areas across NSW lie next to or are surrounded by bushland, which means protecting life and property are the highest priority for government land management authorities.

    On its parks and reserves, Office of Environment and Heritage's primary fire management objectives are to:

    • protect life and property - both within parks and on immediately adjacent land
    • protect and conserve natural, cultural, scenic and recreational features
    • cooperate with other organisations in planning and implementing fire management.

    That's why Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) employs over 1200 trained firefighters and has a full range of vehicles, aircraft, plant and equipment available for fire management.

    Fires do not recognise boundaries, so OEH works closely with the Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW, State Forests and Sydney Catchment Authority and neighbours of national parks to reduce fire risk across the state's national parks.

    These agencies and groups work together through local bushfire management committees across NSW. Set up under the NSW Rural Fires Act, these committees coordinate fire management planning, prevention and suppression in local areas. OEH is represented on more than 120 bushfire management committees.

    Bushfire management committees give local communities a say in local fire management plans. These plans identify community and environmental assets at risk in their local areas. They provide appropriate strategies, including hazard reduction, to reduce the risk of damage from fire. OEH has helped to develop more than 268 district bushfire management committee plans of operation and risk management plans. More information on responding to fires in national parks.

    All OEH parks and reserves are currently covered by fire management strategies.

    Fire management strategies include maps showing:

    • previous bushfires
    • detailed terrain, including natural features that act as barriers to fire
    • different fire management zones, including those that can help to protect towns and villages near a park
    • vegetation communities, Aboriginal and historic heritage sites, threatened species, park facilities and equipment, and sensitive areas
    • fire control advantages such as fire trails, water supply points and dams, and helipads.

    Local communities, bush fire management committees, the NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW and other interested parties are consulted in the preparation of fire management strategies. The strategies are placed on public exhibition before they are finalised, and members of the public are encouraged to read and comment on draft strategies.

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    Page last updated: 11 April 2017