More that 40 million hectares was burnt during the 2019-20 fire season.
More that 40 million hectares was burnt during the 2019-20 fire season.

The lessons we need to learn from horror bushfire season

A REPORT from the Bushfire Royal Commission makes for sobering reading.

It talks of an "ecological disaster" that burnt 40 million hectares, killed 33 people and three billion animals - all at the close of Australia's hottest and driest year on record.

The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements' interim report was released on Monday.

While not the official findings, the report highlighted areas of concern.

It noted the extended time volunteers spent at the fire front, away from their families and jobs, often running into weeks and months.

In response, the report flagged increased workplace protections to ensure volunteers had a job to return to when the danger passed.

It also investigated the guidelines around hazard reduction burns.

The interim report said the burns were generally effective but their limitations were made worse by climate change.

"The effectiveness of land management depends in turn on a range of factors, particularly weather," it said.

"There are also several constraints that limit the extent of, and opportunities for, land management, including cost, community awareness, regulatory settings and the shortening of seasonal windows."

Grazing, mechanical clearing and Indigenous burning also played a part in reducing risk, and the report called for more research into their use.

"These activities play an important role," the report said.

"However, (they) will not eliminate bushfire risk."

The final report will be released on October 28.

Click here to read the interim report.

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