Too many recent headlines say: ‘A fierce new bushfire is burning in the XYZ National Park. Nearby residents should prepare to evacuate’.
Neglected, overgrown, weed and log infested, un-grazed, unburnt, government-protected parkland is a danger to all neighbours. All it needs is a firebug, a fearful neighbour attempting a too-late back burn, or a lightning strike, and a wildfire is inevitable, especially when the weather is hot, dry and windy. Wildfires will not stay in their national park.
Never before in Australia’s long history of black and white occupation have such large areas of bush been quarantined from annual burn offs, cultivation, slashing or grazing.
Four policy changes are needed to fix this problem:
Firstly, a reduction in the area of land locked in national parks and reserves, and an end to ‘protected’ vegetation on private land.
Secondly, repeal of the sneaky state/commonwealth conspiracy that created the Kyoto protected ‘forests’ on private land.
Thirdly, regular cool season burning of all national parks and private bush. If it will burn in the cool season it should be encouraged to burn at appropriate times. Otherwise it will support a fierce unplanned wildfire once the hot dry winds blow.
Fourthly, greater local autonomy on preemptive burns or back burning. Only experienced local landowners and fire wardens can say:
‘Today after 3.30pm is our best chance to have a burn-off with reasonable safety’.
Most of the huge bushfires that burn homes and kill forests are man-made national disasters, fed by excessive fuel loads, magnified (but not caused) by drought, and turned into wildfires by hot dry winds.
Trying to blame carbon dioxide, a non-flammable plant fertiliser, for today’s wildfires is yet more Flannery fiction.