Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We may not be here much longer if the arsonists have their way!

A 'controlled fuel reduction burn' is planned in the next week or so for the Grantville Flora and Fauna Reserve next to our property and we are not too happy about it. But of course there is nothing we can do because general public opinion demands that the Department of Sustainability and Environment conducts burns on native vegetation to make it 'safe'.

We have expressed our objection to the planned burn and I must say that we feel more threatened by the prospect of a deliberate burn being ignited by DSE staff and our local CFA than by a wildfire which may start naturally.

So many of these 'controlled' burns (which the proponents say are necessary to reduce the understorey load they see as a threat) get out of control because they are deliberately lit on inappropriate days when wind shifts are likely. Rarely is an assessment made of the actual threat to 'assets'.

The vegetation here is generally wet forest and it's going through a natural transition which will be set back by human interference in the form of a widespread burn. OK, it's reasonably dry at the moment, but putting a burn through now will not reduce the fire threat next year – it may in fact increase the danger for residents in the Adams Estate which is an old and inappropriate subdivision. They have been clamouring for a burn to 'protect assets' without any understanding of fire behaviour or fire ecology. This fire will kill koalas, bandicoots, possums and other wildlife. It's likely that immediately after the 'controlled burn' residents will have problems with snakes looking for a new home. Countless will be killed by panicky people wielding spades.

But at the end of it all, the fire threat will be the same next year – nothing will have changed except more native wildlife will have been killed and more habitat will have been modified for no purpose other than appeasing an insatiable demand for 'someone to do something' about the threat of wildfire.

The current Royal Commission into last year's fires will probably come up with nonsense about justifying the need for more burns – even though those are likely to increase fire danger by changing vegetation types from damp to dry.

Anyway, no-one will take any notice of us. But if this 'controlled burn' get out of hand and generates problems, DSE can expect a bit of trouble. Who is going to be out there finding burned animals? Who is going to euthanase those too badly burned to be rehabilitated? What happens next year if a wildfire goes through and this year's burn is seen as a useless exercise? There's not much point in trying to find somone to blame. And who cares?

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