This planned burn is not an isolated case of cowboy vandalism. The DEPI proposal to burn a 6,000ha piece of coastal old growth in the Croajingolong National Park includes the Barga Reference Area. Reference Areas are set aside as untouched landscapes and must not be interfered with. Called the Old Coast B burn, it’s between Sydenham Inlet and Tamboon Inlet.
This is a high risk fire and would be difficult to control as the land is peaty and there are few access tracks within it. It has no history of fires, and no surveys for wildlife, let alone plans for their protection.
While the vegetation is very fire-proof (lightning strikes don’t take), it has peat beds that could catch alight and burn for months into the next summer season. It is likely habitat for federally listed threatened species yet there has been no surveys undertaken. This deliberate lack of knowledge allows a potentially destructive burn to avoid having to seek federal approval. There could be populations of Smokey Mouse, Ground Parrots, Southern Brown Bandicoots and the Eastern Bristle Birds, Eastern She-oak Skink, Grey-headed Flying Fox. Calling this an ‘ecological burn’ but having no idea of what’s in there is deceitful. If this burn goes ahead, it will be blind eco-vandalism.
Parks, reserves and large areas of coastal heathlands and forests are soft targets for meeting the absurd 5% burn figure. They can have huge ecological impacts that wipe out vulnerable species, especially in areas like this.
You can write to the manager of DEPI in Orbost – Steve deVoogd Steve.Devoogd@nulldse.vic.gov.au Ask that decent surveys be carried out by experts, peat beds are mapped, a risk assessment be drawn up, a detailed copy of the burn plan supplied, and if all the necessary precautions are taken and the fire goes ahead, that adequate aerial water bombing capacity be on standby. Due to this area being so valuable environmentally, pre and post burn surveys need to be carried out on a wide range of values, not just plants.