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Victorian fires 2009

It's time to stop lighting fires - Article by Bob McDonald, Naturalist

This very widely and deeply researched article talks about the role of Australian native animals in protecting forests from fire and reviews the evidence for prescribed burns, criticising Bill Gammage's research on a number of grounds and noting misconceptions about Aboriginal fire management. "Research by the CSIRO published since 1994 has shown that there is a group of around 1000 species of moths called oecophorids whose caterpillars occur at densities of up to 400 per square metre and eat dead leaf litter. These insects are killed by fire and take some years to come back - leaving the bush accumulating leaf litter. With frequent fires they can be lost. Termites consume vast amounts of dead timber Australia wide and in long unburned forests they are particularly dense with huge mounds in southern Australia too but their role in fuel reduction remains unstudied! Cockroaches and a wide range of beetle species and their larvae do the same. Recent research has identified Lyrebirds and Mallee Fowl as playing key roles in fuel reduction, composting litter and twigs in vast amounts reducing fuel loads by tonnes by per year per bird. All these insects, birds and animals that reduce fuel loads are diminished or lost to fire. Fungi are known to be major consumers of dead timber - but their role in fuel reduction is yet to be researched and the role of wallabies, wombats and especially potoroos in distributing fungi, though it is obviously significant, remains unstudied.

Video lecture: Did Australian Aboriginals burn the bush as we are told? Joel Wright, "The language of fire."

Note: This introduction has been edited for a number of small but important inaccuracies. editor 29/12/2014.] Fuel reduction and ecological burning etc. are based on the assumption that all Aboriginal people undertook fire-stick farming. Joel Wright, traditional owner in southwest Victoria, is an indigenous language, culture and history researcher. He finds no evidence of wide-scale burning in Aboriginal language and culture, but does find other explanations for the history of aboriginal fires observed by Europeans. These were often smoke-signals exchanged between clans, for general communication and warning of approaching Europeans etc. There was also defensive burning to hinder explorers by burning feed their for their stock. Other fires were to 'cover their tracks' when they were being pursued, etc.. Many of these fires were mistaken for landscape burning. Joel also found one record of burning small portions of dry grass around marshes to expose an area to attract birds to scratch for food there, making the birds potential meals for the indigenous hunters. Nowhere did he find anything to justify the destructive and dangerous annual incineration of the landscapes of the Gunditjamara by the Victorian Government. He was concerned that burning the bush as we do now kills the birds and animals so important to vegetation stories, removes scar and burial trees and 'burns micro particles from axes and spears that holds the clues as to what they were used for.The video was recorded from Wright's presentation at Australian Wildlife Protection Council Fire and Wildlife Conference, "Pause and Review Victoria's Fire Management." November 2014

Study finds logging increased intensity of Black Saturday fires

The heat and severity of Kinglake and Marysville fires that killed 159 people on Black Saturday was significantly increased by clear-fell logging of forests, scientists believe.

Are Victorian governments trying to get rid of Victorian wildlife on purpose?

Video inside. This article is about the effects of 390,000 ha of native vegetation targeted to be burned every year in Victoria, Australia's most cleared state. The video inside this article documents how vast numbers of Australian wildlife are burned alive in scientifically dubious prescribed burns, mandated by the Victorian Government. It asks whether the cruel and avoidable fate of many wildlife in prescribed burns is really protecting human lives and assets or merely a way of meeting an arbitrary target. Others would be much harsher and say that this may be a calculated strategy to rid the state of wildlife in addition to an apparently deliberate failure to cooperate with wildlife activists in making easily protected wildlife corridors to connect viable habitat.[1]

Illogicalities and sleight of hand in bushfire accounting and management

Fuel-reduction occurs on many occasions without being called that and often is not accounted for in bushfire inquiries. Nor is the impact on wildlife habitat, notably hollow trees.

Kalahari Fires: reflections on man's first tool of environmental management

Helga Vierich writes that Fire has long played a part in the ecology of the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa. Among the Kua of the south-central Kalahari the power of natural and man-made fires is well understood. These hunter-gatherers use fire to control ticks, increase plant fruit yields, alter the species composition of wild plant communities, influence the movement of game, and to attract specific animals into snares and traps.

"Cynical" - proposed logging of Brown Mountain and impact on jobs

Article about Brown Mountain on the Anarchist media net says that the logging of Brown Mountain will be done by public servants who would be otherwise deployed in our poorly tended ecosystems if they were not sent off to log. However EEG disagrees on this point. See related important corrections to original article in comments below it inside. They also make interesting reading.

Help us save Leadbeater’s Possum - their future is in your hands

Threatened species day is 7th September 2009. It might just as well be Australia day because all our native animals are being squeezed out of their habitats. Perhaps the very most endangered is the little Leadbeater's Possum, living only within a tiny area of Victoria.
Decades of logging in native forests, the devastating impacts of the 2009 bushfires and the massive levels of Salvage Logging taking place post-fires are tipping our State Faunal Emblem over the edge towards extinction!
Please Act this Threatened Species Day … 7th September 2009 - more inside.

Tiny kangaroo first new patient for Wildhaven after the February fires

First new patient in Wildhaven since the fires.
The large and serious eyes in the long face make you think of E.T., but this is actually a tiny baby kangaroo. He will grow up for the next couple of years in the experienced hands of Wildlife carers, Stella and Allen Reid. When he is released into the adjacent forest, he will also have learned how to live like a kangaroo, but at the moment - still a little baby - he is living in two worlds.

HELLLPPPP! Imminent logging on Brown Mountain means less rain, worse fires in Victoria - protest info

The news just in is that the Brown Mountain decision will be made in a week or so and the loggers will go in immediately afterwards! Brumby is not planning to protect it! Be there Tomorrow at 10.30am on the steps of Parliament House Victoria. We want everyone who can come along - young and old. The more old growth we cut down the more drying of the land, reduced rainfall, increased temperatures and risk of more and hotter bushfires. Bushfires dominate in managed and thinned forest, not in old growth! Logging Brown Forest will cause more bad bushfires in Victoria. Campervan, 4WDS and cars needed. Contact 0413927044

Recreating Eden - saving orangutangs, reversing deforestation, climate change, and economic failure: Willy Smits Borneo project

click here for film
Biologist Willie Smits has found a way to re-grow clearcut rainforest in Borneo, save and house local orangutans, reverse climate change, stop forest fires and give sustainable income and justice to the locals. It all started because he rescued a baby orangatang from a rubbish heap...
We could do the same thing in Australia on all our degraded land. Only our government is stopping us.

Victorian Bushfires - cost effectiveness of aerial fire-fighting [Bushfire CRC Ltd]

In April this year [2009], Australia's leading bushfire research organisation, Bushfire CRC Ltd, published yet another significant report on bushfire fighting: 'THE COST-EFFECTIVENESS OF AERIAL FIRE-FIGHTING IN AUSTRALIA'
by Gaminda Ganewatta & John Handmer, via the Centre for Risk and Community Safety, RMIT University in Melbourne.

Bushfire CRC's report examines the economic effectiveness of aerial fire suppression and has made pertinent findings about the role of integrated aerial fire-fighting specific to the Australian landscape.

Community Bushfire Shelters - Considerations Outside the Square

Previous so-called 'community refuges' were not purpose-built bushfire shelters, and most were no safer than a house or any other building. Many were potential death traps. They were buildings with raised, rubbish-littered sub-floors, holiday camps consisting of small, separated timber huts surrounded by metre-high grass, car parks and football grounds reached by narrow, bush-lined tracks.

See also: "How misconceptions about bushfire bunkers may cost lives" of 21 Jun 09, and "Fire bunkers could have helped in the Victorian fires" of 10 Feb 09.

Victorian Bushfires - The future is 'hard and early' airborne/ground crew response. If South Australia's CFS can do it?.....

It took many bushfires over many decades, but in December 2008, South Australia's Premier Mike Rann started seriously committing to Aerial Bushfire Fighting by securing an Erickson Aircrane water bombing aircraft being based in South Australia during the Fire Danger Season: ['Aircrane “Flynn” part of record CFS fleet'] The Erickson Aircrane, nicknamed 'Flynn' is now part of a serious fleet of 15 fire-fighting aircraft with crews dedicated "to improve the capacity and flexibility of the Country Fire Service to respond to potentially threatening bushfires,” Mr Rann said.

CFA - leadership is misguided and out of touch

CFA Chairman Kerry Murphy

No Australian should forget that 173 people died in the Victorian Bushfires last February. That it could happen again should be so anathema to Premier Brumby that he should realise an overwhelming need for a paradigm shift away from the current misguided and out-dated strategies of the Country Fire Authority's Board and Executive.

Victorian Bushfires - state-of-the-art remote sensing must come out of all this

One hope out of the avoidable tragedy of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires and out of the political football of the Brumby Royal Commission is that public will demand a paradigm shift in Australian bushfire fighting resourcing and standards.

One of the fundamental changes must be to force a leap frog from post-World War II bushfire detection to state-of-the-art 21st Century remote sensing of ignitions. The current system which relies upon members of the public calling 000 to report bushfires is substandard fire-fighting practice and unacceptable. Allowing ignitions to burn out of control in remote locations and blow up into fire fronts is also substandard fire-fighting practice and unacceptable.

Victorian Bushfires: CFA ill-prepared and reliant on obsolete firefighting technologies

A report by ABC journalist, Jane Cowan, 1-Jul-09, 'Bushfire lawyers blast CFA's Rees' states that lawyers assisting Brumby's Royal Commission into the 2009 Victorian Bushfires have in an interim report concluded that the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) was ill-prepared for 'Black Saturday'.

Victorian Bushfires – media reporting a causal link to bush arsonist arousal

The Australian Press Council has just dismissed a complaint against Sydney Morning Herald columnist Miranda Devine about her opinion article back on 12-Feb-09 ‘Green ideas must take blame for deaths.’ Devine's provocative article dogmatically accused "the power of green ideology" for poor forest management practices and as the key reason for the exacerbated scale and ferocity of the Victorian bushfires in 2009. ['Complaint against Devine dismissed, SMH, 26-Jun-09, p.5] But although provocative, Devine's 'opinion' article pales in comparison to the social implications of headline media reporting of extreme bushfire risk immediately BEFORE the bushfires! See also "Victorian Bush-fires: ABC 7.30 Report ignores facts, creates scapegoats" and "Responding to incorrect fire information by joining the debate" and "Comments on recent fire-management in bush-fire areas" and "Greens, logging, forest fires and malaria" and "Deforestation drys continents - new theory explains how"

National investment overdue into co-ordinated airborne bushfire response

We need to dig deeper if we are serious about the bushfire threat, and this doesn't mean just more charity to prop up the existing but failing system, as the PM seems to perpetuate. This goes beyond the Victorian Bushfires. Under-resourcing is a fundamental problem with Australian bushfire management nationally.

This article was written in response to a comment in the discussion in response to the story "Nearly half of Wilsons Promontory burnt due to CFA neglect".

Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission will fail to protect Victorians and fail to stop history repeating itself

The Victorian Premier Brumby's Royal Commission into the January-February 2009 bushfires is a mere incident review. If Victoria is to be protected from firestorms in future, it should undertake a root cause analysis, including the numerous past investigations into bushfires, with a view to achieving a cultural shift in rural fire fighting methods, resourcing and emergency management and into ecology management, housing approvals in bushfire prone areas, building design in bushfire prone areas, in bush arson criminology and into serious resourcing of rural fire management.

How misconceptions about bushfire bunkers may cost lives

Joan Webster, author of The Complete Bushfire Safety Book and Essential Bushfire Safety Tips believes that some information, contained in the article "Fire bunkers could have helped in the Victorian fires" of 20 Feb 09, is wrong and may put lives at risk. In this article, she explans why.

See also: "Bushfire bunkers strategy an 'after-the-fact' dead end" of 21 Jun 09.

Bushfire bunkers strategy an 'after-the-fact' dead end

As an alternative to the enormous ecological and economic costs entailed in building the kind of bunkers that may be necessary to guarantee the safety of residents of bushfire-prone, we should instead consider adopting more proactive measures to prevent fires in the first place and to detect them and fight them effectively should outright prevention prove impossible.

See also: "How misconceptions about bushfire bunkers may cost lives" of 21 June 09 and "Fire bunkers could have helped in the Victorian fires" of 10 Feb 09.

Fire stick farming

Fire stick farming is of great interest to me, as fire ecology as a tool for ecosystem manipulation appears widespread and old among hunter-gatherers worldwide. I made a study of this among the Kua, and it was actually what my grant was for, but I had to change topics in mid stream as Botswana had been converted to the "Smokey the Bear" philosophy by range ecologists at the world bank - so they had passed draconian ant-burning laws just before I got to the field.

Black Saturday Royal Commission - information
Preliminary directions hearing on 20 April 2009. Public hearings commence 11 May.
Call for submissions. General submissions close on 18 May 2009.

Deforestation drys continents - new theory explains how

Whilst many people have been aware (but have mostly been ignored) that vegetation, especially forests, creates rain, and whilst desertification has been linked to deforestation historically many times, there is a new and robust theory to explain how this may happen.
See also How logging causes forest fires

Prescribed Burning

Out of the media frenzy to get ratings out of the Victorian bushfires, a 'so-called' bushfire expert on an ABC 730 Report panel (David Packham) advocated a 6 to 7 fold increase in prescribed burning for Victoria.

See also: "Victorian bushfires by arson" of 26 Mar 09.

Victorian bushfires by arson

The Australian Institute of Criminology reported last month that half of Australian bushfires are deliberately lit. Bushfire research needs to go further to evaluate whether in fact, of the most damaging, most are deliberately lit.

The term 'fire bug' is too docile and to start seriously dealing with it, we must change the perception and the language. Bush arson has become so deadly and catastrophic a crime that it warrants the term 'pyroterrorism'.

Steve Irwin's dad visits Wildhaven after Black Saturday bushfires

Since Black Saturday - Feb 7, 2009 - when Australia's worst-ever bushfires on the hottest day in Victoria's recorded history completely destroyed all infrastructure at Wildhaven animal rescue and release center, Alan and Stella Reid have had a few visitors, including Steve Irwin's father, Bob Irwin, and Maryland Wilson of the AWPC, and four kangaroos that also escaped with their lives. Allan Reid tells an incredible story of his own survival as the place burned to the ground leaving him and perhaps four kangaroos alive. Please consider donating money for hay and rebuilding.See alsoImportant Wildhaven Shelter in St Andrews NE Victoria perished needs rebuilding and video.

Simple natural solutions to fire and flood

"If you purchase two copies of The Age this Saturday, soak one in the bath overnight and read the other. Think of the copy coming out of the bath, as the landscape prior [to the impact of repeated fires] and the dry paper, as the landscape is today." (Article by Duane Norris for Natural Sequence Farming)


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