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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