The bushfires of 2012-13 in Victoria covered around 130,000 ha. The government has just proudly announced they have now burnt 250,000 ha of forest this Autumn (May 2013)! As well they have pumped about 18.3 million tonnes of C02 into the atmosphere.
So what does this mean?
Besides this being one massive unscientific experiment based on politicians trying to placate nervous electorates, rather than effective asset protection, it has also:
• Added around 18.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. About 20 tonnes a hectare of stored carbon is estimated to be lost during burns (x 3.67 = C02 created).*
• Taken out healthy functioning ground soils’ duff and compost layers which keeps the soil damp and cool – and fire resistant.
• Burnt the fungi that are so important for ‘digesting’ leaves, twigs and even logs.
• Wiped out ground habitat for micro-organisms that small birds, lizards and frogs feed on, the very basis of a forest’s food chain.
• Incinerated large areas of cover for the ground dwelling wildlife exposing them to predation, exposure and starvation.
• Ignorantly destroyed the habitat of many rare and threatened plants and animals as there are no surveys done before igniting large patches of forest.
• Burnt out and destroyed thousands of highly valuable hollow bearing trees, critical for so much rare wildlife.
• Exposed delicate soils to rain wash and erosion.
*This C02 figure is more than agriculture’s but just under the transport sector’s annual figures (2007) and around what Victoria’s dirtiest power station, Hazelwood pumps out every year!