the fire hazzard reduction program

To: "'Frank O'Connor'" <>, <>
Subject: the fire hazzard reduction program
From: "Roger Giller" <>
Date: Thu, 5 Sep 2013 13:58:24 +1000

While agree with your other points I can not let the first one go

Burning the bush is only one step in a relatively short term cycle. As it
grows it sucks up carbon. When it is burnt, or dies and decays, the carbon
goes back into the atmosphere it came from. If the bush is burnt every X
number of years then on average nothing changes. (Note that I am only
referring here to the effect on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, not the
ecology, which sadly is the loser in all this)
The problem with climate change is the burning of fossil fuels. They locked
up the carbon millions of years ago. Life as we now know it has evolved to
be happy with the concentration of carbon dioxide that remained in the
atmosphere, until we started adding to it by accessing and burning the
fossil fuels. 

Roger Giller.

-----Original Message-----
From: Frank O'Connor  
Sent: Thursday, 5 September 2013 4:04 AM
Subject: the fire hazzard reduction program

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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