the fire hazzard reduction program

To: Frank O'Connor <>, Birding Aus <>
Subject: the fire hazzard reduction program
From: Denise Goodfellow <>
Date: Thu, 05 Sep 2013 04:58:50 +0930
I believe that because Kakadu has "the crap" burnt out of it year after
year, is in large part responsible for the decline of native mammals and
probably other wildlife.

Many taxa live in the hollows of common eucalypts such as E. miniata and E.
tetrodonta.  These trees can take 30-50 years to develop substantial
hollows.  Top End eucalypts are fire-tolerant, and can survive being burnt
relatively regularly,  But year after year fires scar the bark and
eventually fire enters and the tree burns down.

White-throated Grasswren habitat at Gunlom Falls burns regularly.  I don't
bother going there any more.  For a start if it hasn't burnt I don't want to
be standing in the midst of all that flammable spinifex when one of the
crowd at the top of the falls throws their cigarette butt away.

Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow
PO Box 71,  Darwin River,
NT 0841
043 8650 835

On 5/9/13 3:33 AM, "Frank O'Connor" <> wrote:

> Tony, I couldn't agree more.  It has long been a bug bear of mine in
> WA.  But you get one major wildfire, and it is blamed on not enough
> control burns (even if it is a firestorm that nothing would stop),
> and they seem to be given open slather to burn anywhere.
> A few thoughts I have had over the years.
> 1. Is this 'control burn' practice counted in the greenhouse gas
> emissions?  On the one hand, there are credits for locking up carbon
> in plantations, etc.  On the other, they ruthlessly burn the bush.
> 2. I have no problem with some control burns. e.g. 500 metres around
> towns.  100 metres around major property.  50 metres along major
> roads.  But they blanket burn areas.  This is legalised arson.
> 3. There was a proposal after the Victorian bushfires to burn
> national parks in Victoria on a 20 year rotation.  This was decided
> that it had to be for every national park / reserve.  So they were
> going to burn the old growth mallee.  This would have been a disaster
> for mallee / spinifex species.  I wrote a letter to the department
> against this. I don't know the final outcome.
> 4. In WA, there have been occurrences where 'controlled burns' got
> out of control.  My understanding of the Margaret River fires is that
> they tried on 13 days to set it alight, and finally succeeded on a
> day of forecast severe conditions (40+ knot winds, hot weather,
> etc).  There have been controlled burns in the Fitzgerald River NP
> that burnt out a camp ground (including the Malleefowl that had an
> active mound), and almost burnt down the rangers house.  There are
> others I am aware of.  I have heard that a control burn to protect
> Western Ground Parrot habitat in Cape Arid NP got out of control and
> burnt out about 40% of the WGP habitat they were trying to
> protect.  They did not have emergency equipment on standby (e.g. the
> water bombing aircraft), or it was needed for other purposes.  Was
> this because the WGPs were not valuable enough.
> 5. My impression of CALM / then DEC / now DPaW in WA is that they
> have people heavily involved in wildlife, others who are experienced
> in managing reserves, and others who are experienced in fires.  The
> former (too few for all the conservation issues we have) don't seem
> to have much influence when it comes to burning off practices.
> 6. In south west WA, I am sure they would like to burn more in
> spring, but I think they get issues with winds, and also conditions
> moving the smoke over the metropolitan area which is a bad look.  So
> my impression is that a lot of the control burns are done in
> autumn.  They always complain that they can't reach their target.
> 7. The Kimberley and areas such as Kakadu have the crap burnt out of
> them year after year.  They fly planes over dropping fire
> balls.  This is not good for the environment to happen year after year.
> 8. When I have been to inland areas with spinifex in the past few
> years, it has been getting harder and harder to find areas of old
> growth spinifex suitable for species such as grasswrens,
> Rufous-crowned Emu-wren and Spinifexbird (plus all the mammals and
> reptiles that prefer this habitat).  e.g. Cape Range NP.  Near
> Newman.  Near Paraburdoo.
> 9. This issue seems to be 'the white elephant in the room' to a large
> extent.  Noone wants to seriously discuss it.  If you do, you get
> attacked and all the wildfire damage is brought up, as I said as
> though the lack of controlled burns is the major cause.
> There does need to be some control, but I cannot agree with any
> blanket burning of large areas, whether it is spring or autumn.
> There, I have got it off my chest.  It won't change things though.
> _________________________________________________________________
> Frank O'Connor           Birding WA
> Phone : (08) 9386 5694              Email : 
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