Bushfires

When we moved to our rural abode, one of the first things I enquired about from the local CFA was bushfire emergency planning, prevention and action recommendations applicable to our township. Being a bush travellers for decades, I’m well aware of the risks and safety precautions necessary even in Winter time when camping in the High Country and, while much the same applies in a township, I wanted to make sure whether there were any specifics I needed to be aware of so that I had all bases covered. Additionally, at the beginning of each Summer the CFA issues a number warnings and preparatory information for residents as a reminder that they need to be ever vigilant in the hotter months of the year, as well as having evacuation plans in place should the need ever arise. Having experienced and fought High Country bushfires and all too many times travelled through what remains of the bushfires, I was very cognisant of the potential dangers.

CFA - Mirboo North Victoria

CFA – Mirboo North Victoria

Every year we are strongly urged to maintain our homes and yards in such a state such that we minimise the likelihood of fire spreading, should a nearby fire eventuate and embers start flying about. Most of this should be common sense and involves keeping ground litter to a minimum, making sure that gutters are clean of leaf debris and that things don’t become too overgrown in general. We have a constant cleaning requirement because of the numerous gum trees in our yard and in adjacent properties (our back yard alone has over 30 large gum trees), which are a constant source of leaf litter all year round. I’ve installed mesh over all the gutters so that this leaf litter doesn’t build up in the gutters themselves, as they were when we moved in, but you could clean things weekly and there’d still be leaves and small branches everywhere following just one windy day. But you do your best, especially come Summer, so that you don’t invite the worst.

Bushfire Preparation - Endless leaves and branches

Bushfire Preparation – Endless leaves and branches

Local landowners also do similar things on their properties, making fire breaks where necessary and keeping things clear on their properties to reduce the chances of fires starting and especially spreading. Sometimes they are caught between a rock and a hard place as areas they want to clear are forbidden to be touched by the local council, which leads to quite a bit of tension. This sort of thing was demonstrated by the Nillumbik Shire and its insane green policies that resulted in much destruction in the devastating 2009 Black Friday bushfires. Councils are responsible for a range of clearing tasks, but like with all councils often the basic services that used to be provided are often neglected for more important things like social awareness, cultural, wellbeing and other such important initiatives. All the while ratepayers are more interested in the traditional things that councils no longer appear to be greatly interested in, especially roads maintenance and rubbish removal. Though they still have a very keen eye and hand when it comes to rates. In fact, councils go about warning landowners of the need to cut grass etc, while often ignoring the same when it comes to properties belonging to the council.

Bushfire Preparation - Council Scrub

Bushfire Preparation – Council Scrub

Rolling Farmland - Mirboo North Victoria

Rolling Farmland – Mirboo North Victoria

So given that World+Dog is advised and often legally required to maintain properties in a condition that minimises the risk of fires starting and spreading, why is it that state governments are immune from meeting such requirements? This is patently clear as every year there are severe warnings that fuel loads in our state forests and national parks have built up to dangerous levels and Royal Commissions are subsequently held to determine why massive fires have occurred, recommendations made and then duly ignored until the next Royal Commission. Rinse and repeat. The early bushfires this season in NSW are another indicator, not of climate change, but of almost criminal negligence in the way that forests are mismanaged. Fuel load reduction, when the season would allow it to be done safely is virtually non-existent because of Green policies. And certain entities are always ready to blame things on climate change, but the biggest blame lies in lack of fire prevention and that means clearing the bush in the same way that you are required to keep your property clear.

NSW Winter Bushfires April 2018 - (source: Network Ten News)

NSW Winter Bushfires April 2018 – (source: Network Ten News)

Lots of excuses are always made afterwards, but it’s of little consolation when everything is a charred ruin after a massive bushfire. And bushfires have become quite significant over the last few decades as organisations like the Forests Commission existed and who understood the bush and did a marvellous job of looking after our state forests. The same applies to the numerous logging interests and available forests that have disappeared, succumbing to Green dreams and becoming national parks and wilderness zones that are much less cared for than before. And we now have caretakers that understand much less about the bush than the old timers that lived and worked the forests and were usually the first responders to any fire that started. Sadly, those ultimately responsible just get away with negligence year after year, decade after decade, and just wring their hands after a bushfire, saying there was nothing they could do and always looking to blame someone or something else. Nothing changes but the lies continue:

NSW’s month of bushfires  – in the middle of winter – has Victorian authorities preparing for a horror fire season.

The CFA is so concerned it will bring the start of the official Fire Danger Period forward to September 10 for some parts of Victoria, The Age can reveal.

That makes it the earliest start to a fire season on record.

The Bureau of Meteorology says, driven by global warming, the state has experienced the hottest start to a year on record.

Remnants of the bushfires along Basalt Knob Track - Dargo High Plains Victoria

Remnants of the bushfires along Basalt Knob Track – Dargo High Plains Victoria

Bushfire Remains - Birregun Road Victoria

Bushfire Remains – Birregun Road Victoria

Bushfire Remains - Upper Dargo Road Victoria

Bushfire Remains – Upper Dargo Road Victoria

Until we start to properly manage our forests and accept that caring for the forests and the wildlife within needs more than just making everything a national park or wilderness zone, nothing will change. But we aren’t the only country faced with exactly the same complacency and Green led policies and, quite frankly, idiocy when it comes to forest management. This is perhaps the clearest and most well presented explanation of what is so wrong with Australia’s bushfire management policies:

Update1. And interestingly, the Los Angeles Times reinforces the problems associated with forest management and bushfires today, ‘THE LA TIMES INADVERTENTLY ADMITS TRUMP IS RIGHT ABOUT WHAT’S CAUSING CALIFORNIA’S MASSIVE WILDFIRES‘:

Adopting more active forest management policies such as increased thinning of trees and conducting controlled burns will help mitigate damage from future wildfires, the Los Angeles Times editorial board writes.

California forests have grown drier and less healthy from overcrowded trees, infestations of bark beetles and the effects of climate change, the LA Times writes. California’s restrictions on active forest management have contributed to the poor and worsening conditions of the forests, allowing them to grow uninhibited while suppressing fires that would normally naturally control the forests’ growth.

Update 2. It’s kind of ironic that just after I wrote this story, there appeared an article in the local news about ‘Planning for better bushfire management‘, intended to ‘help’ the government to shape bushfire management strategies in bushfire prone areas. The website includes a survey asking people what are their most important values when it comes to bushfire management. After looking at the survey, all I can say is what a utter virtue signalling as well as a total waste of time, effort and resources this survey represents. How many more bushfires and Royal Commissions do we need before the government acts on what has been recommended year after year, rather than procrastinate and watch disaster after disaster unfold every few years.