National Parks are Bushfire Havens By Viv Forbes
Too many recent headlines say: “A fierce new bushfire is burning in the XYZ National Park. Nearby residents should prepare to evacuate.” Neglected, overgrown, weed and log infested, un-grazed, unburnt, government-protected parkland is a danger to all neighbours. All it needs is a fire-bug, a fearful neighbour attempting a too-late back-burn, or a lightning strike, and a wildfire is inevitable, especially when the weather is hot, dry and windy. Wild-fires will not stay in their National Park. Never before in Australia’s long history of black and white occupation have such large areas of bush been quarantined from annual burn-offs, cultivation, slashing or grazing. Four policy changes are needed to fix this problem: Firstly, a reduction in the area of land locked in national parks and reserves, and an end to “protected” vegetation on private land. Secondly, repeal of the sneaky state/commonwealth conspiracy that created the Kyoto protected “forests” on private land. Thirdly, regular cool-season burning of all national parks and private bush. If it will burn in the cool season it should be encouraged to burn at appropriate times. Otherwise it will support a fierce un-planned wildfire once the hot dry winds blow. Fourthly, greater local autonomy on pre-emptive burns or back burning. Only experienced local landowners and fire wardens can say:
“Today after 3.30pm is our best chance to have a burn-off with reasonable safety.” Most of the huge bushfires that burn homes and kill forests are man-made national disasters, fed by excessive fuel loads, magnified (but not caused) by drought, and turned into wildfires by hot dry winds. Trying to blame carbon dioxide, a non-flammable plant fertiliser, for today’s wildfires is yet more Flannery fiction.