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TAS Country : January 24th 2013
Friday, January 25, 2013 Tasmanian Country 9 News MANAGEMENT: Fire reduction burns before the fire season make bushfires easier to control. Reduce the fuel, reduce the risk CHEWS theFAT David Byard IN April 2009, I wrote an article in The Tasmanian Country regarding bushfires and inaction from govern- ment. It seems nothing has changed. It has been interesting to watch how politicians and department heads have previously talked big about the need for reduction burns, and when the fire season is over the problem of huge vegetation loads is forgotten until the next fire season. Premier Giddings has said it is too early to tell if fuel reduction burns could have reduced the severity of this season's devastating bushfires. She has also said that fuel re- duction burns would not have made much difference. According to the Premier, 80 per cent of land burnt on the Tasman Peninsula was privately owned and therefore out of reach of reduction burns. I have no idea who is briefing the Premier, but her comments are clearly wrong. There are three things you need for a fire to burn: heat, oxygen and fuel. The only element of those we can change is the amount of fuel to burn. There are of course other factors that can impact on the severity of a fire -- humidity, wind speed and direction, and air temperature -- but the biggest of all is fuel load. Without fuel it is very hard to get a fire going, but with sufficient fuel it can be almost impossible to stop. You need fuel to burn. If reduction burns had been done it is logical that intensity of the fires would have been greatly reduced. Fuel loads of 7 tonnes per hectare are manageable in most conditions except in extreme. But fuel loads in excess of 40 tonnes per hectare can give you unmanageable catastrophic fires that will crown and spot kilo- metres ahead of the fire front. After each fire season the CSIRO, foresters, ecologists and farmers all talk about the need for hazard reduction burns. But all that results is a token effort to do more reduction burns, with little outcome. Peter Attiwill, who has has 45 years of teaching and research ex- perience in plant ecology and more than 170 publications, particularly in eucalypt and bushfire ecology, sums up what many are saying: ''The only way that we can mini- mise fires of high intensity, such as those that have ravaged south- eastern Australia over the past six summers, is to reduce the fuel loads in our forests by controlled burn,'' Mr Attiwill said. ''There is a wealth of evidence that controlled burns reduce both the extent and intensity of bushfires. ''The relative effects of regular controlled burns and high intensity bushfires on biodiversity and ecosy- stem processes are matters for con- tinuing research to produce optimum outcomes for both biodiversity and fire control.'' Even at the local level this was backed up last week when a forestry spokesman said fuel reduction burn- ing had helped firefighters contain a fire that was burning out of control in state forest near Mathinna. When the fire reached an area that had previously had a fuel reduction burn the fire reduced to a point where it was possible to contain. He said there were plans to burn 20,000ha this year of which 7000ha had been completed. In the north, only half of the 8000ha fuel reduction burns were completed last spring. In 2009, I wrote it took up to three years to get permission for a re- duction burn, after running the gauntlet of government departments doing fauna and flora surveys and endangered species searches. All this means we are drowning in a sea of red and green tape. Have our politicians and bureau- crats learned much over the years since 2009? Perhaps not. It is clear that the government is trying to do more; it talks about the amount of fire reduction plans it does yearly, and how they have increased over the years. Critics would argue that the amount of planning needs to be tripled to get anywhere near the area that needs to be burned off. Also it appears the amount of plans developed has no correlation with the amount of actual burns being done. It is believed under half are done. It would seem that over the years because of community pressure and governments caving in to that pres- sure, more land managers are losing the experience of hazard reduction burning and thus lose the practical understanding of fire behaviour. Many older residents in rural areas will tell you that in late winter and spring as well as in the autumn, you would always see areas of bush being burned. It was a common occurrence, but is something you don't see now. Not only do we not get a safer bush, but we are losing practical skills. Rural Briefs $5000 student incentive FIRST-year university students who have chosen to study a degree relating to agriculture this year may receive a cash boost. Applications for a $5000-a-year Horizon Scholarship from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation close on February 1. Students studying agricultural science, rural science, livestock/animal science, veterinary science or agribusiness are eligible. Contact RIRDC 02 6271 4132 for application forms. Agritas boss appointed AFTER an extensive search the new Agritas Trade College's first chief executive is keen to step into the role. Don McLaren, who will relocate from Western Australia with his wife Marie, will be Smithton-based. He takes up the position early next month. Mr McLaren has had wide management and leadership experience, including a senior role at New Zealand's renowned Massey University. He will consult widely with farmers and stakeholders to develop courses and curriculum offerings to meet market needs. Franklin working bee PAINT brushes are drawn and ready for action as the small community of Franklin in southern Tasmania gears up for a working bee to restore an unused church hall. The historic hall has been bought by local couple Naomie Clark-Port and Tony Port, to keep the building in local hands. They plan to turn the venue into a meeting place for the community, cafe, cider bar and local museum to honour Lady Jane Franklin, who was a culturally aware and forceful pioneer woman. The working bee starts at 10am tomorrow. School green grants open NORTHERN schools to set to benefit from environmental grants in the latest round of NRM North's funding program. The grants offer funding from $100 and $3000 to primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities in the NRM North region. The funding has been made available through the Australian Government's Caring for our Country program. Over the past year, NRM North has distributed more than $200,000 in grants to assist with natural resource management initiatives. An information kit including grant application forms and guidelines is available on the NRM North website at www.nrmnorth.org.au or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 6333 7777. Applications close on February 11. Clean-up and Assistance Grants As a result of the bushfires the Tasmanian and Commonwealth Governments are providing Clean-up and Assistance Grants to provide short term targeted assistance for clean-up, removal of debris and further restoration following the bushfires in cases where the impact on the small business, farming and not for profit sector has been particularly severe. These clean-up grants recognise that small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations will have costs that may not be covered by the contract with Hazell Bros and provide assistance for further restoration. All claims must be lodged by 30 June 2013. There are two tiers of grants available: Tier 1 - An upfront lump sum payment to all eligible applicants with a maximum grant of $10,000. Tier 2 - A grant of up to $15,000 based on an assessment of impact and quotes or receipts/tax invoices where costs are in excess of Tier One Payments. This payment may be upfront or a reimbursement of costs. Further information and claim forms are available from www.bushfirerecovery.tas.gov.au or by calling 1800 567 567 and in person at all Service Tasmania shops. Representatives from the Tasmanian Government will be visiting Sorell, Dunalley and Murdunna to provide advice and assistance on the following dates: SORELL - Tuesday 29 January 2013 Bushfire Recovery Taskforce Office, 31 Cole Street, Sorell. DUNALLEY - Wednesday 30 January 2013 St Martin s Anglican Church, Main Road, Dunalley. MURDUNNA - Thursday 31 January 2013 Mobile Recovery Centre, Arthur Highway, Murdunna. For assistance with the small business and non-profit claim forms, please call the Business Tasmania Team on 1800 440 026. For assistance with the primary producer claim form, please call 1300 368 550.
January 17th 2013
January 31st 2013