Bodies are still being found, the Royal Commission still has no terms of reference and yet the ABC is pointing the finger at the environment movement and the Greens! Friday night's 7.30 Report failed to show that the most 'managed' forests were the worst hit, instead giving the opposite, wrong impression and blaming 'greens'.
Anyone with knowledge of the areas affected most by the fires who heard the 7.30 report on fire Friday night (13 Feb '09) would have to be on blood pressure medication now.
Pro-logging-industry ABC report ignores facts, creates scapegoats
It was a logging industry coup - with the presenter targeting 'greens' and 'Greens' as the villains that caused these fires. The lack of burning was the fault of the 'greenies' and the Greens politically. Great coverage if you happen to be a logging industry lobbyist, the Bush Users Group, the ALP or Libs.
The fuel loads were what caused the fires, we were told as a 'fact' rather than an opinion ... The whole production made it look like everyone was in agreement, not just those apparently benefiting from a political opportunity, like the self-proclaimed 'fire-expert' David Packham. (See in dot-points below why 'Green' or environmentally-friendly policies cannot be blamed for the fires).
Some of us called up immediately and blasted our outrage down the phone. The number I called was (03) 9626 1666 for ABC TV.
Bodies are still being found, the Royal Commission still has no terms of reference and yet the ABC is pointing the finger at the environment movement and the Greens!
Taken from DSE data current to this week:
Hard to see how this can be turned around to blame national parks.
The senate inquiry in 2007 was at pains to point out that in uncontrollable firestorms like this, tenure and land management is irrelevant and we have to build community preparedness to survive the onslaught.
Full quote from conclusions is:
"... there will always be uncontrollable bushfires from time to time. This is most evident from evidence regarding the Australian Alps, which experienced their worst fires in 1939, under a completely different land tenure and management regime to that in place when fires burnt there in 2003. A significant part of living in and managing the environment must be acceptance of fire and ensuring preparedness for it."
Facts that need restating
- The Greens do not have a policy that advocates no fuel reduction burning - but a more scientific approach. They have never made a campaign out of this. Similar policies are held by environment groups in general.
- How after 12 years of drought and the recent mega fires and a policy of so much fuel reduction burning, do we get the claimed record levels of fuel. But how do you control a fire under the following circumstances?
- Temperatures were their hottest ever recorded at 47 degrees.
- Relative humidity in single figures and winds constantly hitting 100kmh.
- A 12 year drought.
- 1ml of rain in 6 weeks.
- The previous week had a run of 5 days each over 40 degrees. Unheard of.
Pattern of burning in specific locations
1) Much of the fire burnt most intensively through dry forest. On the Modis fire satellite image, the fire appears to have burnt these forests most intensively, whereas the wetter forests are patchy. The towns of Marysville, Kinglake and St Andrews are surrounded by these drier forest types, where we see the highest levels of devastation.
2) These fires burnt very aggressively in plantations. The Churchill fire burnt through large areas of plantations. These are intensively managed for wood production, with no understorey or fuel loads, yet these burned very intensively.
3) Around Whittlesea, Wallan and East Kilmore, much of these fires burnt through long grass on farmland. The argument of forest protection around these areas is irrelevant, given that these areas are cleared farmlands and had very little forest areas upwind on Saturday.
4) The fire on Mt Riddle was ignited by a lightning strike and burnt the northern slope. At the beginning of last year, the DSE/Parks Victoria lit a large control burn on this slope, of which it even scorched the crowns of the eucs. This control burn did not prevented the ignition and spread of this fire into Healesville and surrounding forest.
5) Many of these fires have started on either private land or non-forest areas (ie the fire that burned over Mount Disappointment). The only fire at this stage to have started in National Park was the Mt Riddle Fire.
6) Large fire breaks had been cut through Mt Disappointment bounding the Wallaby Creek water catchment. This is 'active management', yet they were useless in preventing the fire from spreading from the state forest into the protected Wallaby Creek catchment.
7) It is suspected that the fires west of Mt Disappointment and Yarra Glen, along with Churchill, were deliberately lit. This is a case of managing 'people' rather than forests.
8) These fires are being intensified by a rapidly changing climate. Scientific models developed by the CSIRO have predicted that high fire danger days are going to increase dramatically with increased greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere.
9) Scientific studies around the world indicate that highly disturbed ecosystems are more vulnerable to the climate crisis than less disturbed ones.
What happened during specific fires
- The Kilmore fire started on the edge of a farmland, was not catchable, ripped through plantations and across huge firebreaks like the Hume freeway and strategic breaks. It had burnt around the farmland trapping people trying to escape out of Kinglake long before it burnt through the National Park and into Kinglake. It burnt quite slowly through the Wallaby Creek catchment (unlogged) compared to the Mt Disappointment state forest. Mt Disappointment state forest is a mecca for 4wds and other recreationists that claim by allowing them into the bush, then fires will be stopped. Eventhough it was still moving at over 10kmh. A fire is pretty well much uncontrollable at around 2kmh.
- This fire has burnt through the urban interface, the most heavily fire managed areas around. The Kinglake National Park is on very poor quality soils. Hence it is mainly only low growing grasses.
- The Murrundindi fire started in very close proximity to a timber mill. It burnt to Marysville 20 kms away in just over an hour. This is in the most heavily logged and woodchipped area in Victoria and also a mecca for the 4wd and associated groups. It has spotted across the Acheron valley and raced up areas heavily woodchipped as a crown fire (not initially burning through ground fuel) into the closed O'shannassy water catchment.
- We are getting a picture that SOME areas of old growth ash forest remained unburnt in the initial fire storm. But they are burning at very low intensity and will hopefully survive.
- Apart from Bunyip, I cannot think of any major fire this season that hasn't been in a plantation or other heavily logged forestry area. It is almost like they are being targeted.
- The Old growth of Maroondah catchment has generally survived to date but again fires are just starting to enter them. hopefully they will stay at an intensity low enough for the eucs to survive.