Fires and Burning

Better planned bush burns needed

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Originally published at: 

A controlled burn at Warnett on Western Port Bay. Photo: Justin McManus Victoria must use risk-based land management burns to prevent bushfires, and dump an annual target, national parks groups say.

Last month Environment Minister Lisa Neville asked the Inspector-General for Emergency Management to conduct a review of performance targets for a future bushfire fuel management program on public land.

The Black Saturday Royal Commission recommended a long-term program of prescribed burning based on an annual rolling target of 5 per cent of public land.

The review will examine a risk-based approach to bushfire fuel management against the existing hectare-based performance target program. The report is due at the end of the month.

White Australia's burning issue — what's wrong with Bill Gammage's book

Monday, February 23, 2015

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Ngadju Conservation Coordinator Les Schultz near a traditional burn

Ngadju Conservation Coordinator Les Schultz near a traditional burn. Photo: Ngadju Conservation

A popular argument suggests Aboriginal people always burned country so non-Aboriginal Australians should too, albeit for modern purposes, such as fuel reduction burns. Historian Bill Gammage argued this in the popular and influential book The Biggest Estate on Earth (2011).

It’s time to stop lighting fires

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

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Fern understorey

Bill Gammage’s popular book ‘The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia’ contains many fundamental flaws and represents ‘blind advocacy’ for repeated burning’ because ‘Aboriginal people did it’. 

Like Keith Windshuttle’s ‘Fabrication of Aboriginal History’, Bill Gammage only pursued references - and interpretation of references - that supported his ‘hypothesis’. For Gammage that hypothesis is that all Aboriginal people farmed all of Australia using fire. This proposition was first published by Rhys Jones in an article in Australian Natural History in 1969 ‘Firestick Farming’ - and the references Jones used have as little merit as Gammage’s.

Mallee birds extinct in 20 years: government policy to blame

Sunday, November 16, 2014

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The Victorian Government stands accused of all but guaranteeing the extinction of threatened Mallee birds as a consequence of its bushfire prevention policy. The Mallee emu-wren, in particular, is just one fire away from being wiped from the planet.