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Planting to Reduce Fire Impact

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Planting to Reduce the Impact of Fire Damaging Your Home and Property

You can significantly reduce the damaging impact of a bushfire by planting certain types of vegetation on your property.

There is no such thing as a fireproof plant, as all vegetation will burn in the right circumstances, or if subjected to intense prolonged heat. However there are types of plants that are more resilient to a fire's impact.

The characteristics of these plants are:

• high water or salt content within the leaves, creating a buffer zone;
• low volatile oils within the leaves;
• they do not accumulate litter on the bark or within the canopy;
• can be short, low to the ground and compact, reducing the movement of a bushfire and dampening the effect of radiant heat as well as lessening the intensity of ember attack, as the foliage smoulders and self extinguishes after a short period of time; and
• can be pruned excessively without damaging the plant in times of high fire risk.

Aside from the types of plants there are other factors to consider when planting vegetation to reduce the impact of bushfires:

• Don’t have tree branches overhanging the roof of your house. Try and have five metres of clear access between any trees and your house.
• Avoid creating canopies that can assist the movement of fire by spacing trees and
other plants apart.
• Incorporate lawns, pebbles, pavers or water features to reduce the standing
vegetation surrounding the house.

Regardless of the types of vegetation you have on your property, it is recommended that before each fire season you:

• clear gutters of leaf litter or other vegetation;
• remove rubbish that is laying around the property (dispose of gas cylinders, aerosols, batteries, etc according to local government laws and by-laws;
• maintain shrubs and trees regularly by removing dead branches, pruning and removing leaf litter that forms around the base; and
• if clearing any location of native vegetation that you will need to find out about any regulations or laws by contacting your local council.

By using the information provided here, not only could you be reducing the impact of a bushfire on your property, you could also be assisting Rural Fire Brigade volunteers in safely defending your property.

We've attached a document containing this information, including some plant suggestions. Please free to download.

Source: North Coast Rural Operations

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