Here is what the NSW Nature Conservation Council has to say about the Recommendations of the Wambelong fire inquiry:
Have your say using the comments option (below), sensible discussion and comments will be published.
12 March, 2015
Recommendations of Wambelong fire inquiry are misguided
The NSW Nature Conservation Council has warned that several recommendations of the parliamentary report into the catastrophic fires at Coonabarabran in 2013 have no scientific basis and would do little to improve fire management in NSW.
“The Wambelong fire and its aftermath have been a terrible ordeal and caused significant distress in the community around the Warrumbungle National Park and the Coonabarabran district,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said.
“It is vital that the government, land managers, firefighters and the wider community learn the lessons from this terrible event, and respond with thoughtful policies that are based on the best available science and research.
“Regrettably, the parliamentary upper house inquiry’s report into the fire makes several recommendations that would undermine some of the existing system’s many strengths and do nothing to enhance public safety.
“The recommendations we have major concerns about relate to matters we believe also fall outside the terms of reference for the inquiry.
“It is unreasonable to make recommendations that affect management of fires in national parks across the state based on understandings gleaned from one fire event.
“Major changes to fire management planning and policies that affect the whole state should be based on consultation with all stakeholders in fire management, and we urge the government to do so before seriously considering adopting the committee’s recommendation.”
Hazard reduction targets
“The committee has recommended that 5 per cent of fire-prone public lands be subject to prescribed burning every year, but has not provided any evidence this will reduce the impact of bushfires on communities.
“In fact, the Independent Hazard Reduction Audit Panel in 2013 found an increase in hazard reduction burning of between 2 per cent and 5 per cent would result in only a modest reduction of risk, and even if the target was met the residual fire risk would still require the same amount of fire management infrastructure and resources as are currently committed.
“It has taken many years of research to attain our knowledge of the fire ecology requirements of vegetation systems in NSW and any hazard reduction program implemented in national parks must take into account ecological considerations.
“We urge the government to adhere to its existing hazard reduction program as an effective way of protecting life, property and the environment, and to not undermine the work of fire authorities and public land managers by requiring them to meet arbitrary targets.
“During the parliamentary inquiry Rural Fire Service officers explained that arbitrary targets may not reduce the risks faced by communities.
“This view has previously been expressed by the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission Implementation Monitor.
“Scientific research has demonstrated that reducing hazards close to buildings and other assets is the best strategy. Broad-scale burning far from assets to achieve a target would take us down the wrong path.”
“The committee’s report recommends decommissioned fire trails in national parks be reopened and the number of fire trails be increased.
“This recommendation would undermine years of work by Bush Fire Management Committees that have identified, established, and maintained a fire trail network that has achieved good fire management outcomes in a cost-effective way.
“We believe decisions about specific fire trails should be left to local people on Bush Fire Management Committees with a good knowledge of the landscape, rather than reopening trails simply because they once existed, and then having to pay for the maintenance of unnecessary trails.
NPWS and the RFS
“NCC is concerned that the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s fire management practices have been unjustly denigrated as a result of this one fire event.
“Bushfires are an inevitable part of the landscape in NSW and will continue to occur, and with the effects of climate change are forecast to increase in frequency and intensity.
“NSW has had a successful cooperative arrangement between the Rural Fires Service and other fire management agencies for many years and it should not be jeopardized by unnecessary procedures.
“NCC believes the Rural Fire Service is best placed to coordinate bush fire prevention and ensure that bush protection planning is in place. We also believe the RFS is well placed to appropriately resource fire fighting efforts.
“We have a similar opinion of the capability of the National Parks and Wildlife Service to undertake fire management on national parks estate and do not believe their value as a fire authority earned over many years should be downgraded.
National parks buffer zones
“The report’s recommendation that the National Parks and Wildlife Service be required to clear at least six metres on their side of the fence discriminates against the Service.
“There is no legislative requirement to clear adjacent to boundary fences, only an entitlement, and as other landowners are not required to clear we believe placing the National Parks and Wildlife Service into a special category would be inequitable.
“As well as being unnecessary and expensive to implement, mandatory clearance along park boundaries would encourage infestation by flammable weeds, and be impractical in rugged terrain.”
The “Nature” debate can be wrapped up with one simple fact:
If humans did nothing and let nature do the job, the lightening would eventually strike and the fires would burn until:
1. The fuel runs out,
2. The rain falls, or
3. The temperature drops.
There are three sides to the fire triangle (simple science), we can’t stop the wind (oxygen), we can’t control the temperature (heat) but we can do something about the fuel.
Fuel management is the answer but no-one likes to mention the F word.
We stop the natural process but putting out lightening strikes on bad days, we should help nature by lighting them up again on a better day.
This is not rocket science.
Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski and her following are at a serious disadvantage to judge accurately if the Wambelong fire enquiry was “misguided” in its recommendations. The NCC are relative opinionated ‘blow ins’ on matters of fire and conservation in Australia and their definition of science is a matter of convenience for assuming control over public and national assets for the exclusive few be they employed in educational and research institutions or moved onto work in various government departments as ‘graduate clerks’ or perhaps rangers in the new land claims called national park or wilderness a man made dehabited ecological artifact product of some northern hemisphere dogma which was more evangelical, philosophical, opinionated than scientific then or now.
Science in Australia has become a national embarrassment to many because “you get what you pay for.” Impartial peer reviewed science is edited out by who is in charge of funding and employing, agendas to justify confiscating public and national assets. Kindergarten is being brainwashed to accept environmental theory as proven science. Not so at least not all of it has survived the editorial room where vested interests are not declared for the insurance industry, the bonfire empire built on policy failure, disposable tourism built on the legacy of past good land and water management until the inevitable man made inferno from chronically doing nothing. No grazing, no dingo control, no logging, no natural fire, no proactive traditional fire, no acknowledgement that over the last 26 million years Australia has moved into a drought zone where fire is now part of the rhythm of life.
Vegetation has adapted to and reliant on both periods of drought and fire is part of the essential ecoservices for resolving toxic litter produced by bottle brush, t tree and eucalypt plant family dominating many ecologies. Dry flammable fuels are charred by cool frequent fire returning nutrients, smoke products and soil conditioners to the ecology. Stop this process and the “voice of nature” drowns. If big animals trample and compact these residues then the fire behavior is further modified to deliver biologically beneficial outcomes.
The so called ‘environmental movement’ has been beavering away world wide recruiting gullible academics and educators (indoctrinators) to save biodiversity to burn. Animals with hooves are vilified and discriminated against without scientific basis. Forestry practices of thinning and salvaging saw logs in a native forest maintained as fire safe open forest declared the enemy as are sheep declared the enemy of wilderness???? Wilderness a concoction of select man made imagination. In Australia obliterating human history going back 60000 years or more. A bit of scientific editing there too.
Cool fire having a 410+ million year coevolution with land plants declared the enemy because townies are inconvenienced by smoke or do not understand the difference between friendly fire and out of control bushfire. Biodiversity salvation having nothing to do with harbouring a tangle of flammable scrub and man made chaos. In their government jobs it was easier not to have fires. Birthday candles taken from our children raised as fire cretins. Administrators ignorance, incompetence and indecision did not have to be exposed. The weekends kept free to go bushwalking in their recently confiscated land grabs made beautiful by rural minorities working as farmers, foresters or fishermen.
The Dunphy dynasty were architects and bushwalking club founders imbibing on dogma of John Muir Scottish born emigrant to America. Neither were scientists. Muir declared sheep wilderness enemy after a frustrating 4 month droving trip to the Sierra Nevada evolutionary home to the Bighorn sheep tending Muir’s wilderness claims millions of years before he got there. One of a litany of unscientific calls by Muir that have been adopted as a tragic comedy of errors for America, Australia, Africa, Eurasia….. The entire environmental movement can be declared “misguided” from its foundations Ms Smolski. You and your following are not welcome in Australia if people are going to set about undermining proven effective benign hazard reduction practices to maintain our native biodiversity, forests, water supplies, food supplies, put at risk our rural communities by abusing public office, dominating the free press, manipulating the political process or other means.
Imposition of subjective clap trap masquerading as substance of robust scientific analysis open to unbiased freely accessible peer review science when it has been massaged and manipulated who can access research funding, who can hold positions of influence. Sit on advisory committees to the Minister. On and on.
In the same world cities are covered in traffic lights and enjoy piped water among other innovations. If we cannot find any scientific origins of these facilities and management procedures should we head for town and rip out all the water pipes and traffic lights to install the precautionary principle and to let chaos have its way. Issue wooden buckets and make walking mandatory to protect biodiversity from city smog. If people had to walk in the cities then there would be no need to lock up our forests for bushwalkers to burn in unprecedented fuel loads denied natural fire, wildlife denied dingo removal, denied Aboriginal cool fire regimes when the giant wombats and kangaroo died out, the vilified sheep, cattle, horses discriminated against by more recent migrants, on the basis of the shape of their feet. That’s pretty scientific, eh!
As for manipulating ‘terms of reference’ for bushfire enquiries to take the heat off exposing chronic incompetence, trail of bad advice, bad legislation, rural communities forced to sit by and watch our public lands and conservation achievements incinerate, you have to be joking!
Advocate for Multicultural Land Management evolving for 200+ years
Scientist by training
Bushman by education.