Residents in the Mangrove Mountain District are setting up a special group to arrive at a bushfire policy specific to the area, in the wake of devastating bushfires in December, 2019.
Convenor, Neil Berecry-Brown, said the Mountain Area Deliberative Assembly (MADA) was all about protecting residents and assets in the district and the greater Central Coast.
“Should we be faced with circumstances, as we have been recently, where we are threatened with catastrophic wildfires, we need to have a plan in place, and a policy containing measures that will reduce the threat and mitigate the severity of fire and other natural disasters,” Berecry-Brown said.
“By all accounts, we were very lucky this time with the Three Mile fire.
“Lucky that fortunate wind shifts intervened, and with RFS help, stopped the bushfire continuing eastward, as it did in 1994.”
Berecry-Brown said that when fires threaten, the Mountain Districts area is often the Front Line.
“How we manage our area is critical not only for our lives, homes and livelihoods, but also the welfare of all those who live on the Central Coast to our east,” he said.
“We know this from analyses of historic fire patterns.
“We urgently need a location specific plan, taking into account our unique geography, ecology, population patterns, cultural and heritage assets, infrastructure, soil types etc., adapted to anticipated climatic conditions.”
Berecry-Brown said a Deliberative Assembly (or citizen’s assembly as it is sometimes called) was a tried and effective means of reaching consensus on important public issues.
“It is a grassroots forum for discussion and decision making, informed by the input of expert information on key considerations,” he said.
“People generally like this approach because it is inclusive and participatory, and consensual rather than adversarial.
“It is non-political and found to be more effective than the usual round of being consulted and then ignored.”
Berecry-Brown said nominations were welcome from all ages, backgrounds, education levels and experience levels.
He said experts with information on all relevant subjects would provide members with the facts needed to come up with a plan.
“These could include cultural burning practitioners, RFS, local ‘old-timers’, SES, environmentalists, farmers, fire behaviour experts, local and state government officials and climate scientists,” he said.
“Progress towards a plan will be enormously benefited by the support of Graham Swain and John Travers, both of whom have decades of expertise and experience with fires.
“Their report to Gosford Council on bushfire risks to the Mangrove Creek Dam contains thoroughly researched information and vitally relevant knowledge.”
Berecry-Brown said a steering group had been formed to oversee convening the Assembly and setting an initial agenda.
“The deliberative assembly will be gathered when all expressions of interest are received,” he said.
Berecry-Brown said the names of all nominees would go in a draw, with assembly members chosen by random selection.
“We need to act now to prepare a long term plan for our protection and welfare.
Nominations are invited at firstname.lastname@example.org
Media release, Mar 8
Neil Berecry-Brown, Convenor, Mountain Area Deliberative Assembly