11 Feb 2009, 9:43pm
Politics and politicians The 2009 Fire Season
by admin

Prescribed Fire Hampered by Aussie Greens

Burnoffs following Victoria bushfires a ‘threat to biodiversity’

Siobhain Ryan, The Australian, February 12, 2023 [here]

CONTROLLED burning would be declared a key national threat to biodiversity under a new proposal before government that has been slammed as dangerous to life and property.

While Environment Minister Peter Garrett yesterday gave Victoria carte blanche to do all it needed to control its deadly bushfires, without review by federal environment laws, it emerged he will be asked next year to decide whether prescribed burning to reduce fuel loads puts plants and animals at risk.

A Department of Environment spokeswoman confirmed yesterday it had received a public submission to list controlled burning as a “key threatening process” - the same category that applies to climate change, land clearing and feral cats, pigs and foxes.

“This recommendation is due by late 2010,” she said.

Victoria’s bushfire tragedy has focused attention on the management of its state forests, national parks and other Crown land, which make up a third of the state but contributed four-fifths of the fires started since Australia Day.

Among councils to resist controlled burning was the Yarra Ranges Shire, which was hit heavily by the Black Saturday bushfire disaster.

In a document from 2007, its emergency resource officer said there was too little known about its effect on flora and fauna and called for “rigorous” environmental assessment of prescribed burning, taking account of species’ breeding seasons and the Leadbeater’s possum zone.

“The Shire of Yarra Ranges has not undertaken prescribed burning on public land under its control for a number of years,” the document said, citing a lack of expertise and the risk of lawsuits.

David Packham, a former supervising meteorologist for fire weather nationwide at the Bureau of Meteorology, accused environmentalists of behaving like “eco-terrorists waging a jihad” against prescribed burning.

“The green movement is directly responsible for the severity of these fires through their opposition to prescribed burning,” Mr Packham said.

The federal Environment Department’s spokeswoman declined to name the applicant behind the proposal to list controlled burning as a “key threatening process”.

But bushfire consultant Chris Muller, a former fire officer with the Victorian and West Australian governments, said the proposal would make it even harder to carry out precautionary burn-offs to reduce fuel loads in forests.

“I am appalled that Minister Garrett would even contemplate an action that would remove or restrict the use of the only effective large bushfire mitigation tool — prescribed burning,” he said.

“The inevitable consequences of such action are disasters on the scale of that currently experienced in Victoria.”

Victoria already lists “inappropriate fire regimes” and “high frequency fires” as potential threats to the environment, which Mr Muller said reflected attempts to limit controlled burning.

Yesterday, Mr Garrett granted the Victorian Government an indefinite emergency exemption to take “any actions required” to respond to the bushfire crisis without waiting for approval by federal environment authorities.

His department’s spokeswoman said, however, Victoria did not normally need federal sign-off for firebreaks or controlled burns.

“Victoria has environmental management plans approved by the Department of Environment, Heritage, Water and the Arts that protect the environment and ensure that federal environmental approval processes do not get in the way of effective fire management in Victoria,” she said.

“Indeed, they include a provision that in an emergency, protection of life and property would be paramount.”

The spokeswoman said the application to list prescribed burning as a threatening process would undergo “rigorous scientific evaluation” by an expert panel as well as public consultation before it went to Mr Garrett for a decision.

11 Feb 2009, 9:53pm
by Mike

Australian foresters are up in arms. They have seen traditional controlled burning decline as enviro-politicians (Australian Greens) have pushed “natural regulation” and set-aside No Touch zones.

Now the most catastrophic and deadly fires in Australian history have ravaged Victoria. Land stewardship has been crippled and the result is unthinkable disaster.

Spurred by the tragedy, Oz foresters are on the offensive, and it is not going to be pleasant for the Greens.

We need to realize that the same set-aside No Touch policies here lead to similar catastrophic results.



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