GOLDEN Square residents are outraged after a 20-hectare fuel reduction burn by the Department of Sustainability and Environment destroyed rare orchids and wildflowers near Speciman Hill reservoir.
Resident Bill Humphries said the burn near Pinnacle Terrace and Prain and Doyle streets left the area, which was previously filled with wildflowers and Ironbark trees, desolate.
He said his wife had documented 58 different species of wildflowers in the past year in the area, including rare orchids.
“She said it had been its best year for wildflowers for many years,” Mr Humphries said.
“It’s absolutely appalling they would burn it all... that they would do that to a nature reserve.”
Mr Humphries said he had not received any answers when he approached the DSE and Parks Victoria to explain why they burnt the area.
“DSE and Parks Victoria are supposed to be looking after the reserve,” he said. “I can’t believe they would just burn it. It’s a real botch-up. It’s natural vandalism.
“I’d like to see someone evaluate whether this was a worthwhile exercise or not.”
DSE spokesman Nick Talbot said the planned burn was in an Asset Protection Zone, which provides the highest level of protection to human life, property and key community assets, by reducing radiant heat and ember attack in the event of a bushfire.
He said the DSE worked with stakeholders such as Parks Victoria and flora and fauna specialists to develop a Fire Operations Plan.
“When planning each burn, we consider the potential impacts on communities and stakeholders and we’ll make changes when we can, but the decision to burn is always driven by the need to reduce the risk of damaging bushfires,” Mr Talbot said.
“Planned burning reduces the damage caused by bushfires by slowing them down and making them less intense.”
The Murray Goldfields Fire Operations Plan can be viewed online at www.dse.vic.gov.au/burns