Charred horizons towards Mt Frankland ...
Burn along the new tourist circuit ...
Is it merely just an anthropocentric view?
Then why is it that Tasmanians always want to burn the bush?
The answer to this may simply be – Because it is there!
So here’s the latest from the wilds out West.
It comes as no surprise to find that the recent autumnal event of hazard reduction burning in the state’s northwest continues to highlight the ongoing ignorance towards sensitive and responsible land management by Tasmanian government agencies.
The first question that beckons is, what actually is it that these pyros are attempting to manage?
As a result of the Dunalley wildfire in 2012, and influenced by the Royal Commission into the tragic the 2009 Victorian fires, the Tasmanian government has adopted a knee-jerk reaction policy to reduce forest fuel loads aimed at preventing catastrophic fires that cause collateral damage to residential and rural properties.
Blindly the Hodgman government has allocated a capped $28.5 million over the next few years to a seemingly random and non-strategic hazard-reduction burning program to be conducted throughout the state. This means burning around 5 % (60,000 hectares) of public land across the island as an ambit claim that this action will mitigate or prevent an intense wildfire outbreak.
Delusional is an understatement for this approach, and as a result the Liberals have set out to burn tens of thousands of hectares of wild country along the west coast between the Tarkine and Port Davey.
All of the areas they have already burnt out in the West are inconsistent with any anti-collateral damage rationale, and merely have just become a hectare/numbers game that has achieved zilch beyond encouraging more fire encouraging vegetation, and retarding the ongoing transitional landscape biota.
It should be noted that most of these recently burnt environments would be acceptable to wildfire in just a few years, so what is the point?
These liberal driven drip-torch wielding and napalm dropping drongos are unnecessarily burning vast areas of healthland/scrub, and there is no guarantee that these irrationally prescribed burns will terminate on their intended boundaries.
A classic example of this was the recent fire around the Norfolk Range in the Tarkine that was intended to burn around the north-eastern parameters of the range but invariably managed to burn out tracts of country west and south.
Not to mention that concurrently a human life was threatened in the bungled process when helicopter incendiaries were released a great distance from where they apparently had planned.
Also there was a burn undertaken near the Rapid River on the tourist circuit road. (see Photo 2) The forest was torched right down to the new bitumen sealed road.
There are further burns planned for the Wuthering Heights 1370(ha), the Mt Frankland area 2800(ha) sometime in the next 10 days, and Knole plain near Waratah 535(ha), which includes a excellent representation of streamside Richea, which should be protected and I’m sure they don’t even know such a unique enclave exists.
Beyond the economic lunacy of such a government hare-brained policy, this ecological madness of randomly torching across Tasmania’s remote country needs to be abandoned ASAP.
The entire fuel-reduction burn objective requires immediate revaluation, which should be strategically focused on protecting human life and associated infrastructure, not lighting fires for the sake of burning.
Clearly our understanding and approach towards fire and its ecological impacts hasn’t progressed an inch since European settlement in the nineteenth century.
A more befitting statement would be if we renamed the Island from Tas-mania to Pyro-mania!
• Ted Mead, in Comments: P.S - I failed to mention notably about the loss of all living things in these areas when they are torched - Billions of insects, invertebrates and vertebrates, and loss of breeding and browsing habitats. The Knole Plain area near Waratah scheduled for torching is quite unique in sub-alpine heathland and scrub. It has abundant mammalian fauna and is an important feeding ground for Wedge-tailed eagles so I discovered last week. Torching Knole Plain is complete and unwarranted madness. Even in our evolutionary neanderthal days we would have had a better understanding of it.
• Jon Sumby, in Comments: I agree, it does not make sense and is, frankly, stupid. Tasmanian animals, plants, and ecosystems have evolved with natural fires caused by lightning strikes. However, research done by the CSIRO Bushfire CRC shows that 90% of bushfires by lightning strikes burn less than 10 hectares. Over the last decade or so lightning strike bushfires have increased by around 140% in Tasmania, but we haven’t noticed because they aren’t that big. The overwhelming majority of bushfires that are big and damaging are caused by us; mainly agricultural causes, recreational fires, or deliberately set. The fires planned by the TFS are ecologically extreme and intense; like several large 1-in-a-100-year fires burning at the same time. This is not ‘fuel reduction’ it is environmental destruction.
MEANWHILE ... elsewhere (what is it about anything associated with forestry) ...
• Ian Sauer, Chair, State Fire Management Council, in Comments: In response to the article torching the Tarkine more Liberal lunacy written by Ted Mead on May 26th, I would like to clarify some of the views expressed by the author and some associated comments. The fuel reduction program in Tasmania is starting to implement a highly strategic and planned program of fuel reduction, based on priorities developed through science-based bushfire risk assessment modelling, and the input of locals, experts and stakeholders who make up 10 fire management area committees.
• Ted Mead, in Comments: #40 Ian – Thanks for your input – However your comments read like a typical rhetorical government response; placing much emphasis on a strategic implementation regarding the reduction of bushfire risk, particularly relating to human population zones. There is simply no factual or realistic basis of this when it comes to burning vast tracks of buttongrass /healthland in some of the most remote regions within the state where there is virtually zero risk to humans or their associated infrastructure. Not even a slightly convincing argument when it pertains to appropriate environmental management. … I stand by my comments that the current Liberal Fuel Reduction Burning program is non–strategic, and is merely a political knee-jerk reaction to the Dunalley 2012 fire. Furthermore it is essentially a waste of $28.5 million whilst based on a 5% hectare target that entails unnecessarily burning of vast areas of remote natural country.
• Ian Sauer, in Comments: Ted, sorry you saw my response as a typical rhetorical government response, it was not a response to anyone, it was providing facts to the readers and writers on this important topic. Much of what you have written, I agree with, and forms the basis of the fuel reduction programme. I suggest you have a look at the links I provided, and read the information on the fuel reduction programme, which Iam sure will give you a degree of comfort, as well a more factual understanding of the program.
THURSDAY, June 11 ...
• ABC: Parks and Wildlife considers new burn-off procedures after bushwalker caught out by firebombing The Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) has admitted staff were unaware of a walker or walking tracks when they lit fuel reduction fires in the state’s north-west in May. PWS is considering recommendations for future burns procedures after a terrified bushwalker was caught within metres of smoke and flames. Lee Evans, an experienced bushwalker, was caught in fuel reduction burns at Mount Edith in early May this year, when a helicopter began firebombing the area. Her car was parked at the beginning of the walk.