The IFA/AFG response to the fires

Last week the Institute of Foresters of Australia sent out a response to the devastating fires that are currently sweeping our Nation, as detailed below.

From the IFA/AFG:
We acknowledge that many IFA/AFG members and the forestry sector are doing it very hard right now, they have lost animals, buildings, workplaces and forests over the past months. Our throughs are with you during this very difficult time.

We are mindful that many of our members are currently involved in active fire management and take this opportunity to say thank you for your incredibly hard work and acknowledge the very long hours, little sleep, high risks and the stress that firefighting and fire recovery causes. Again we say thank you.

While this is a devastating and exhausting time for many of us, it is also an opportunity for the IFA/AFG to communicate the science and solutions for effective forest and fire management in Australia. In the coming months will ensure that our contribution is clear, non-political and respectful.

For Australia’s future, it is important that our key messages are not marginalised or drowned out by the shouting match and blame game that is happening across many media platforms at the moment. We will be a fact-based, positive contributor to this very important public discussion.

The IFA/AFG’s Position Statement on The Role of Fire and it’s Management in Australian Forests and Woodlands can be found HERE.

IFA/AFG‘s response
Below, are some of the responses to the catastrophic fires that the IFA/AFG are currently working on. We will continue to keep members updated via the fortnightly e-News and social media over the coming months.

1. The IFA/AFG have established a time-limited Fire Communication Working Group to assist in its timely response to the catastrophic fires and compliment the work done by the Forest Fire Management Committee, the Working Group’s purpose and scope are:
• Work in conjunction and consult with the Forest Fire Management Committee
• Devise and implement the IFA/AFG’s position, strategy and responses to fire management ensuring that any response is based on credible evidence and is consistent with IFA/AFG objects and policies
• Enable the IFA/AFG to increase its responsiveness to opportunities that arise as a result of the fire management in the media.
• Provide the CEO with suggested responses to queries from members and the community about the IFA/AFG’s positions on fire management
• Oversee IFA/AFG communication in regard to fire management including;
o Agreeing on and briefing IFA/AFG spokespersons;
o Developing and approving of fire management related Media Releases;
o Managing of Public Relations activities as they relate to fire management; and
o Communicating with agencies, governments and politicians.
o Monitor relevant activities by stakeholders to identify their positions, actions and possible coalitions.

• At the conclusion of the Working Groups term, provide a final report including recommendations for the Board and Forest Fire Management Committee.

The Working Group comprises the following members, Bob Gordon; Chair, Bill Jackson; Lachie McCaw; Gary Morgan; Kevin Tolhurst and Jacquie Martin.

2. We aim to develop media releases and position statements on relevant aspects of forest and fire management in the coming days.

3. The Forest Fire Management Committee has commenced work on the IFA/AFG’s submission to the Senate inquiry into bushfires. They are mindful that this inquiry may become a Royal Commission, so they are preparing for both possibilities. Members of the Forest Fire Management Committee have provided feedback to Australian Forest Products Association on their briefing notes to politicians.

4. We are planning a Fire Forum to be held in Albury/Wodonga in May 2020. More information about this will be provided in the coming weeks.

5. The IFA/AFG has appointed a PR Company – Font Public Relations to assist us to communicate with the media and general public and help us get our message of science and solutions out.

6. Finally, the IFA/AFG is looking to offer a webinar in the coming months titled The Fire Fallout: R U OK? Psychological first aid: How to support your colleagues and community to provide resources and tools that will be required during the recovery period.

If you have information or credible examples of the role of forestry in fore management or the effect of prescribed fire please forward to us.