Fire

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There was no data to suggest that burn-offs minimised fire risk in extreme conditions.

Prof. Brendan Mackey

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biodiversityissues

Clearing rainforest to make fire breaks.

Scientific and evidence-based information about environment and bushfires

 

Fire Resources

Fire Break submission - Chris Taylor

A short submission on the Victorian fire break strategy.

BAER Minutes of Operations

The summary of minutes of operations undertaken by Australian and International Burned Area Emergency Response teams.

Burned Area Emergency Response Reports

Black Saturday

The Burned Area Emergency Response Reports were developed shortly after the Black Saturday Bushfires. 60 scientists and specialists flew to Australia to help government agencies analyse and document the best government response to fire affected forests, to mitigate the impacts of fire controls and to help re-establish shattered ecological communities.

The reports were all but ignored by government. The reports cost Victorian tax payers millions of dollars and paved a safe path to prevent water quality contamination, species extinction and fragmentation of the landscape. The reports acknowledged that whilst a small area could be safely salvage logged, the overall management of the forests should be for the areas to be linked, species to be supported and for water supplies to be protected. But the area's are being logged at a rate barely fathomable compared to the past. In the past 18 months, more logging has taken place between Kinglake to Marysville than anywhere else in Victoria. Th BAER team recommended that the government 'must reduce logging volumes to reflect the reduction in habitat and timber resource'. Mr Brumby, Mt Jennings and Mr Helper have increased it.

Salvage logging has now logged more than ten times the amount stipulated in these reports. Water catchments are being smashed by logging, state forests that could provide green refuges for endangered animals like our faunal emblem; the leadbeaters possum are experiencing the heaviest logging assault since WII post Black Saturday.  The Central Highlands regions are being clearfelled faster than they can be monitored or surveyed.

These reports appear to have been withheld from the Royal Commission despite their relevance to the ongoing fuel reduction burning issues. The BAER Faunal Assessment Recommendation states:

5. Review of fuels management and fire ecology plans should be conducted and available data should be analyzed by appropriate resource personnel to determine if fire return intervals are too small. Steps should be taken to ensure that fire return intervals mimic historic fire regimes in individual EVCs as closely as possible while still providing for public safety. An increased frequency of fire within many of the EVCs in the fire area can lead to type conversion to an earlier seral ecological stage. This could have significant negative consequences for a host of wildlife species, rare flora communities, timber resources, and public safety.

A blanket approach to fuel reduction burns across a landscape as diverse as the habitats across the Central Highlands region will not take into account the complicated fire regimes that occur there. In short, each unique habitat type has a unique fire regime that has evolved over time. Analysis of available data, careful review of published literature, and collaboration between resource professionals should be used to guide fuel reduction burns and fire management planning. A review of any planned fuel reduction burns for 2009 within the fire affected area should be undertaken.

This did not appear in the final reports, conveniently edited by government Departments, today, many species face extinction due to the cover-up of the most important ecological reports to come out of the Black Saturday event.

The DSE claim they have created their own version - as you can see, it is weak on policy, filled with ambit claims and places little or no accountability for government to fulfill tasks. 

We have no reservations in thanking the government for their enormous effort in helping communities get back on track, we do, however, want the truth to be known that until Mr Brumby and Mr Baillieu value the ecosystems that provide us with life in this state, their leadership of this state is questionable. Covering up reports in order to allow broadscale logging of endangered species and priority water catchments does not make a leader, nor does it elevate Australia in anyway from our neighbouring 'forestry- corrupt' countries we proclaim we are so superior to.

Sarah Rees

Effects of logging on fire regimes in moist forests

David B. Lindenmayer 1 , Malcolm L. Hunter 2 , Philip J. Burton 3 , & Philip Gibbons 1 

 1 Fenner School of the Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, 2000, Australia  2 Department of Wildlife Ecology, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA  3 Canadian Forest Service and University of Northern British Columbia, 3333 University Way, Prince George, BC, V2N 4Z9, Canada

Does logging affect the fire proneness of forests? This question often arises after major wildfires, but data suggests that answers differ substantially among different types of forest. Logging can alter key attributes of forests by changing micro-climates, stand structure and species composition, fuel characteristics, the prevalence of ignition points, and patterns of landscape cover. These changes may make some kinds of forests more prone to increased probability of ignition and increased fire severity. Such forests include tropical rain-forests where fire was previously extremely rare or absent and other moist forests where natural fire regimes tend toward low frequency, stand-replacing events. Relationships between logging and fire regimes are contingent on forest practices, the kind of forest under consideration, and the natural fire regime characteristic of that forest. Such relationships will influence both the threat of fire to human life and infrastructure and biodiversity conservation. We therefore argue that conservation scientists must engage in debates about fire and logging to provide an environmental context to guide considered actions. Read More

Forest logging creates fire traps: academic

4/03/2010 - Decades of industrial logging in Australia's wet forests have made them more fire prone, raising urgent fire management issues, according to an ANU academic. - Martyn Pearce, ANU Media

Professor David Lindenmayer of the Fenner School of Environment and Society challenges current fire protection practices in the March issue of Australasian Science magazine.

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Victorian 2009 Bush Fire Report

 

 

Commissioned by the Victorian National Parks Association, Australian Conservation Foundation and The Wilderness Society, this report analyses the driving influences of the February 7 Victorian bushfires and how they passed through and affected different areas.

Bushfire Truths:

43% state forest

29% private land

5% plantations

23% National Parks

Download now 

Download individual sections 

Seminar on catastropic bushfire

Peter campbel attended a seminar on April 21, 2009 about the catastrophic bushfires in Victoria on Black Saturday. The seminar was organised by the Melbourne School of Land and Environment at Melbourne University.
The speakers and topics were:
Professor David Karoly - Is this climate change?
School of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science
Dr Kevin Tolhurst - Bushfire behavior under extreme climate
Department of Forest & Ecosystem Science, Melbourne School of Land and Environment
Dr Patrick Lane - Implications for subsequent catchment water yield
Department of Forest & Ecosystem Science, Melbourne School of Land and Environment
These talks shed some light on the scientific observations about recent bushfires on February 7 2009 in Victoria and the reasons why they were so severe.

This blog summarises the seminar.

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Post-Wildfire Logging hinders regeneration and increases fire risk

Recent increases in wildfire activity in the United States have intensified controversies surrounding the management of public forests after large fires (1). The view that post-fire (salvage) logging diminishes fire risk via fuel reduction and that forests will not adequately regenerate without intervention, including logging and planting, is widely held and commonly cited (2). An alternate view maintains that post-fire logging is detrimental to long-term forest development, wildlife habitat, and other ecosystem functions (1). Scientific data directly informing this debate is lacking.

Bushfire Frequently Asked Questions by the ACF

Australian Conservation Foundation

The devastating Victorian bushfires that started on 7 February 2009, now known as Black Saturday, have claimed more than 200 lives and 1800 homes to date. These deaths occurred on a day of unprecedented fire danger that followed a fortnight of record-breaking temperatures and the longest drought on record. In addition to those killed in the bushfires, at least 200 people are believed to have died in Victoria as a result of the heatwave.
ACF believes we must do everything in our power to avoid a repeat of these devastating bushfires. This means examining planning and urban growth issues across the state. It also means taking urgent action on climate change, as scientists are warning that it will bring hotter and drier weather in south-eastern Australia, together with more extreme heatwaves and heightened fire danger.

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Green Carbon and Bushfire debate - Prof Brendan Mackey and Prof Rod Keenan

New research shows that native forests hold much greater stores of carbon than was previously realised. Environmentalists have seized on this science to call for more protection from logging. But foresters conclude the opposite - what they say is needed, is active forest management, harvesting trees for timber and protecting against fire. The National Interest will canvass both perspectives with Professors Brendan Mackey and Rod Keenan.

Listen now

Links between bushfire and logging coupes

The following maps show where the fires burnt where the regenerating logging coupes were.

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Thoughts on the Victorian Bushfires

Excellent observations and opinions on why the cry for more FRBs is a nonsense - written by Andrew Campbell, a Victorian Forester. Every paragraph is a pearler.

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Greenlivingpedia WIKI on Victorian Bushfires

The 2009 Victorian bushfires on Saturday 7 February 2009 were the worst bushfires in Australia's history, surpassing both the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983 and the Black Friday fires in 1939.

The bushfires travelled at alarming speed, up to 100km/h, across farmland and through plantations and heavily "managed" forests, including forests where recent fuel reduction burns had been done.

Bushfire and climate scientists have confirmed that Victoria's hottest day ever, combined with very strong north winds, created conditions for an unstoppable firestorm.

http://www.greenlivingpedia.org/2009_Victorian_bushfires

Salvage Logging in the Mountain Ash Eucalypt Forests

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Salvage Logging on the Black Range

D.B. LINDENMAYER AND K. OUGH

Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2000, Australia,

email davidl@cres.anu.edu.au

Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Department of Sustainability and Environment, 123 Brown Street, Heidelberg,

Victoria, 3084 Australia

 Abstract:  The two major forms of disturbance in the mountain ash eucalypt forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria (southeastern Australia) are clear-fell logging and unplanned wildfires. Since the 1930s wildfire has been followed by intensive and extensive salvage-logging operations, which may proceed for many years after a wildfire has occurred. Although applied widely, the potential effects of salvage logging on native flora and fauna have been poorly studied. Our data indicate that the abundance of large trees with hollows is significantly reduced in forests subject to salvage harvesting. This has implications for the persistence of an array of such cavity-using vertebrates as the endangered arboreal marsupial, Leadbeater’s possum (Gymnobelidues leadbeateri ). Salvage logging also reduces the prevalence of multi-aged mountain ash forests—places that typically support the highest diversity of arboreal marsupials and forest birds. Limited research has been conducted on the effects of salvage logging on plants; thus, we constructed hypotheses about potential impacts for further testing based on known responses to clear-fell logging and key life history attributes. We predict many species, such as vegetatively resprouting tree ferns, will decline, as they do after clearfelling. We also suggest that seed regenerators, which typically regenerate well after fire or conventional clear-felling, will decline after salvage logging because the stimulation for germination ( fire) takes place prior to mechanical disturbance (logging). Understory plant communities in salvage-logged areas will be dominated by a smaller suite of species, and those that are wind dispersed, have viable soil-stored seed remaining after salvage logging, or have deep rhizomes are likely to be advantaged. We recommend the following improvements to salvage-logging policies that may better incorporate conservation needs in Victorian mountain ash forests: (1) exemption of salvage logging from some areas (e.g., old-growth stands and places subject to only partial stand damage); (2) increased retention of biological legacies on burned areas through variations in the intensity of salvage logging; and (3) reduction in the levels of physical disturbance on salvage-logged areas, especially through limited seedbed preparation and mechanical disturbance. 

Salvage logging ecosystem processes and biodiversity conservation

D.B. LINDENMAYER? AND R.F. NOSS†?Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia,email davidl@cres.anu.edu.au†Department of Biology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida 32816–2368, U.S.A.Abstract: We summarize the documented and potential impacts of salvage logging—a form of logging that removes trees and other biological material from sites after natural disturbance. Such operations may reduce or eliminate biological legacies, modify rare postdisturbance habitats, influence populations, alter community composition, impair natural vegetation recovery, facilitate the colonization of invasive species, alter soil properties and nutrient levels, increase erosion, modify hydrological regimes and aquatic ecosystems, and alter patterns of landscape heterogeneity. These impacts can be assigned to three broad and interrelated effects: (1) altered stand structural complexity; (2) altered ecosystem processes and functions; and (3) altered populations of species and community composition. Some impacts may be different from or additional to the effects of traditional logging that is not preceded by a large natural disturbance because the conditions before, during, and after salvage logging may differ from those that characterize traditional timber harvesting. The potential impacts of salvage logging often have been overlooked, partly because the processes of ecosystem recovery after natural disturbance are still poorly understood and partly because potential cumulative effects of natural and human disturbance have not been well documented. Ecologically informed policies regarding salvage logging are needed prior to major natural disturbances so that when they occur ad hoc and crisis-mode decision making can be avoided. These policies should lead to salvage-exemption zones and limits on the amounts of disturbance-derived biological legacies (e.g., burned trees, logs) that are removed where salvage logging takes place. Finally, we believe new terminology is needed. The word salvage implies that something is being saved or recovered, whereas from an ecological perspective this is rarely the case.

Salvage Logging and its ecological consequences

Below is an extract from the book 'Salvage Logging and Its Ecological Consequences', by David Lindenmayer, Philip Burton and Jerry Franklin. This extract is sourced from the Central Highlands Case study and is very relevant to the current salvage logging program that VicForests are currently planning for the fire affected areas as of last Friday.

As previously mentioned, any forms of forest management in the fire-affected areas need to be postponed until the findings of the Royal Commission are given. Salvage logging, along with other forms of mechanical or human-induced disturbance outside of emergency fire suppression measures (that being the current fire fighting effort) will alter and/or remove evidence for the Royal Commission to investigate.

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Fire intensity, fire severity and burn severity: a brief review and suggested usage

Jon E. Keeley
A US Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, Sequoia – Kings Canyon Field Station, 47050 Generals Highway, Three Rivers, CA 93271, USA.
B Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. Email: jon_keeley@usgs.gov

Abstract

Several recent papers have suggested replacing the terminology of fire intensity and fire severity. Part of the problem with fire intensity is that it is sometimes used incorrectly to describe fire effects, when in fact it is justifiably restricted to measures of energy output. Increasingly, the term has created confusion because some authors have restricted its usage to a single measure of energy output referred to as fireline intensity. This metric is most useful in understanding fire behavior in forests, but is too narrow to fully capture the multitude of ways fire energy affects ecosystems. Fire intensity represents the energy released during various phases of a fire, and different metrics such as reaction intensity, fireline intensity, temperature, heating duration and radiant energy are useful for different purposes. Fire severity, and the related term burn severity, have created considerable confusion because of recent changes in their usage. Some authors have justified this by contending that fire severity is defined broadly as ecosystem impacts from fire and thus is open to individual interpretation. However, empirical studies have defined fire severity operationally as the loss of or change in organic matter aboveground and belowground, although the precise metric varies with management needs. Confusion arises because fire or burn severity is sometimes defined so that it also includes ecosystem responses. Ecosystem responses include soil erosion, vegetation regeneration, restoration of community structure, faunal recolonization, and a plethora of related response variables. Although some ecosystem responses are correlated with measures of fire or burn severity, many important ecosystem processes have either not been demonstrated to be predicted by severity indices or have been shown in some vegetation types to be unrelated to severity. This is a critical issue because fire or burn severity are readily measurable parameters, both on the ground and with remote sensing, yet ecosystem responses are of most interest to resource managers.

http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/114/paper/WF07049.htm

Keywords: BAER, dNBR Landsat Thematic Mapper, soil burn severity.
International Journal of Wildland Fire 18(1) 116–126
Submitted: 15 March 2007 Accepted: 15 April 2008 Published: 17 February 2009
Full text DOI: 10.1071/WF07049
© IAWF 2009

Volume 18(1) 2009

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Salvage logging has started - what are the environmental effects?

The salvage logging/green logging is an industry practice following fire events – on top of current allocations they go into burnt-out forest and clear-fell with no A grade logs and 50-80% going to wood chip. The animals that have lost their source of food also lose their homes and future homes.

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Fire/land tenure map of the Murrindindi fire that burnt through Marysville overlaid onto the latest NASA satellite Infrared Image

Here is a fire/land tenure map of the Murrindindi fire that burnt through Marysville overlaid onto the latest NASA satellite Infrared Image. The suspected ignition point is at the Murrindindi Sawmill. Read More

latest satellite image to be posted by NASA's Earth Observatory showing the Mt Disappointment Wallaby Creek catchment

Here's the latest satellite image to be posted by NASA's Earth Observatory. It shows the Mt Disappointment Wallaby Creek catchment Read More

Tasmanian Native Forest Silviculture Technical Bulletin thinning regrowth Eucalyptus

Here is an interesting quote from the Forestry Tasmania Technical Bulletin - Thinning Regrowth Eucalypts. It may be of relevance when discussing the issue of prescription burns amongst other things.

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Royal Commission into Victoria's Bushfires

For the latest update on the Royal Commission into Victoria's Bushfires

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$50 million dollar Fuel Breaks - And how did they perform on Feb 7?

 

fireline final2

A precautionary measure or a political stunt? The jury is out on whether this fuel break is anything more than timber grab?

The question now - Were these $50 million timber hauling exercises useful in protecting human life? Were the other 21 options on the list for government fire proofing investment more sensible, but perhaps less timber beneficial?

Who's asking the questions of government? $50 million for 600 kilometres of cleared forest and not a single reference to their usefulness.

Did the Government choose safety or political pantomime with a timber bonus?

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