Listen carefully to a typical bush-fire warning: “A big fire in the XYZ National Park is now threatening adjacent homes and farms”.
For decades now politicians have been recklessly locking up more land in National Parks, Reserves and Heritage Areas. There are now over 500 national parks covering over 11% of Australia.
In addition to this huge area of nationalised parks, the Howard government, in cahoots with compliant States, created untouchable Kyoto forests on private land in order to meet silly carbon dioxide obligations imposed by the Kyoto Protocol.
This conversion of private grazing land to protected “Kyoto Forest” was accelerated by state government tree-huggers who used aerial surveillance to identify “remnant vegetation” and “regrowth areas” on private land which were then subjected to preservation orders (without ground checking or discussions). Graziers were also prohibited from harvesting timber on their own land. Then some greedy landowners created private plantations of eucalypts to earn credits from carbon fairies in Canberra. This vast area of “protected” land soon became a tinder box of unburnt weeds and flammable scrub.
Most of these untouchable areas have turned into national liabilities, harbouring noxious weeds, lantana, wait-a-while, eucalypt fire-trees and feral pigs, cats, dogs, rats, camels, brumbies, hippies and arsonists. Timber getters, graziers, shooters and bikers are locked out and burn-offs are over-regulated and seldom approved. A heavy fuel load soon accumulates, fire breaks are neglected, access tracks become blocked and national parks become noxious neighbours.
It is obvious to all except those wearing green spectacles that today’s National Parks and Carbon Forests are a danger to their surrounds and bad for the environment. Government land protectionism has failed – we need to hope that these tinder boxes are de-risked by fire in the current bushfire season and at least half of them are restored to private management, usage or ownership.
Forget distractions like “Man-made Global Warming”. There is nothing unusual about droughts or hot winds or bushfires. Today’s problem is “Man-made Super-fires”.
Land and fire management must return to past practices of generations of landowners, black and white - we must fight fire with fire:
“Burn weeds, regrowth and undergrowth regularly in late winter, subject only to approval from immediate neighbours and the local fire warden.”
The Ghosts of Black Thursday 6th February 1851
“We saw either smoke by day or fires by night.” - James Cook as he sailed past eastern Australia in 1770.
“In the whole country I scarcely saw a place without the mark of a fire.” - Charles Darwin 1836.
Protected areas of Australia:
Viv Forbes has science and financial qualifications and long experience in mining, farming, weather cycles, bushfires and politics in Australia. He was an active member of the Mt Walker bush fire brigade for over 20 years. He remembers the terrible Millennium drought and he and his wife fought bushfires of those days on their property at Rosevale. They also had close experience of bushfires in Central Qld and NT. He has no vested interests in any energy industries except as a consumer.