COMMENT: Not heeding the lessons of our fiery past

What is it going to take to educate people when it comes to wild fire and our forests?  Our country and its flora and fauna have evolved to its present state as a consequence of thousands of years of controlled cyclic burning by the first immigrants to Australia, the Aboriginals.

Picture: Katrina Walsh

Picture: Katrina Walsh

As a consequence of around 60,000 years of this practice, Australia’s ecology has evolved such that it needs cyclic burning for its very replenishment and survival.

Controlled burning or fire-stick management allows for a low intensity fire to burn up the old grasses, understorey and forest debris, turning it into valuable nutrients for forest and grasslands rejuvenation and regeneration.

Around 230 years ago came the second wave of immigration. Australia’s populace changed from nomadic hunter/gatherer to a controlled and regimented farming culture with introduced animals and plants and a strong urban culture. This new-world culture held high regards for its modern ways with their own views on land management that ultimately paid no heed to the fiery history of this country.

Now, through deluded ‘Green’ eyes we have developed a lock-up-and-leave mentality and environmental zoning (E Zones) that allow our forests to become overgrown and encumbered with regrowth and understorey that has created thousands of tons of combustible debris lying in wait.

We see controlled burning and selective forestry as a ‘red necked’ solution rather than a sophisticated science and a controlled strategy that ensures the longevity of our forests and native animals.

This fantasy costs our fragile flora and fauna every time, as witnessed recently in Tathra, and yet we continue to pursue this flawed formula.

How many times must we suffer this carnage? Were not the Canberra fires, King Lake or Cockatoo enough? Then the Ash Wednesdays and High Plains fires on both sides of the border that the authorities tell us killed everything down as deep as a metre! The list is endless and yet we still pursue the same formula and the same myth.

Why are people so opposed to thinning out and controlled burning knowing all of the above? True Greens have educated themselves with the truth, and the truth is that forest thinning and controlled, prescription hazard burning is part and parcel of protecting and ensuring our flora and fauna survive for the future.

For our councils and our political leaders, it is time to stand up and be counted and put the interest of our nation, people, flora and fauna at the fore rather than your political position.

Had we followed the age-old cultural prescription of controlled burns and forest thinning Tathra and its surrounds would never have suffered as it has.  It is time for a reality check.

 – Clyde Thomas, Kiah

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