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I read with interest the High Fire Field Day article and the setting up of a number of test sites to look at various strategies.
However I do get disturbed by the continual push by interest groups to have grazing in High Country National Park areas.
Unfortunately I am one of those strange breed who is both a 30 year RFS firefighter but also one of those dreaded “greenies” that the VFFA seems to think has all the power in the world .
National Parks have a role to play in our country and it is not for the use of Cattlemen to use as feedlots.
Agree that there is an issue with how the National Parks are managed but the VFFA should be pressing the State and Federal Govts to provide adequate funding/manpower to Parks , and to RFS , to enable all of us to deliver on reducing fuel loads where needed without the dubious use of grazing in national parks.
There have been many studies ( not all very scientific unfortunately) which seem to come to the same conclusion : e.g
The ‘Esplin Report’ into the 2002-3 fires concluded:
Free-range cattle grazing, associated with firing in forests in the past, appears to have changed the fuel array in forests to one dominated by shrubs rather than grass, a change likely to have increased fire proneness and the chance of intense fires. As a result, grazing has moved to the more open higher altitude country. There, cattle grazing has changed the composition of the vegetation in some places by reducing the quantity of succulent herbage in the form of Snow Daisy (Celmisia sp.) and increasing the grass component (Carr & Turner 1959b)
Recommendation: That, according to available scientific evidence, a decision regarding cattle grazing in the High Country should not be based on the argument that ‘grazing prevents blazing.’
Report of the Inquiry into the 2002-2003 Victorian Bushfires. Bruce Esplin, Chairman. Department of Premier and Cabinet (2003):
Both grazed and ungrazed areas were burnt and unburnt in the 2003 fires, with fire severity predominantly determined by the prevailing weather conditions, topography, fuel loads and fuel flammability types, not whether an area has been grazed.
The Taskforce concludes that cattle grazing does not make an effective contribution to fuel reduction and wildfire behaviour in the Alpine National Park.
Report of the Investigation into the future of Cattle Grazing in the Alpine National Park. Alpine Grazing Taskforce, Department of Sustainability and Environment Vic (2005) 2005:
So hopefully the High Fire Site test will go someway to providing more answers than questions. I also hope that the study , to be relevent , is published in a peer reviewed journal otherwise it is of no use to anyone
Senior Deputy Captain