State of the Environment report – on burning

These comments from the State of the Environment (SoE) report 2008 –

Inappropriate fire regimes (too much or too little fire) threaten the persistence and condition of some species and ecosystems.

Uncertainty exists over optimal levels of planned burning in Victoria for ecological benefits and protection from wildfire.

Human sources of ignition account for at least 70% of fires on public land in Victoria.

The following states pretty clearly that the fire managers still have little clue as to the ecological impacts of their burning plans.

Recommendations

“The Victorian Government should expand research on ecological burning to develop an ecologically based program of planned burning that accounts for the regeneration requirements of plant communities and the habitat needs of fauna. Funding should also be allocated for the extension of Tolerable Fire Interval analysis to all Victorian Bioregions”.

Jobs for the boys

There were 233 bulldozers out there pushing our forests, streams and mountainsides around during the peak of the 2006 fires.

The bulk of these massive clearing operations did naught to slow or stop the drought-fuelled fires, but it did give the impression that something important was being done by lots of blokes on big machines.

Fires leave the structural framework of a forest still standing and the soil undisturbed, but not so the army of 233, 30 tonne tanks with blades and tree pushers. There are hundreds of kilometres of ridgelines entirely cleared of their vegetation, ecologies and hollow-bearing trees.

What’s needed is a cost-benefit analysis of this type of “management”. I have a sneaking suspicion that in many instances it was a matter of the old “dig a hole and fill it in again” job creation scheme. The cost of hiring these machines for three months would have been astronomical.

Plausible hearsay suggests that it was such a lucrative activity that some contractors and dozer drivers were deliberately making more mess than needed because they knew they would get employment for months afterwards doing rehabilitation work.

Scott Gentle from Timber Communities Australia has since been pressuring the government to employ logging industry blokes on a secure basis, because they do such a beaut job. However, Ewen Waller from the DSE stated that the DSE has adequate numbers of operators and machines from outside the logging industry.

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