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Bushfires and fuel reduction

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stui magpie 

Oh the Premiership's a cakewalk


Joined: 03 May 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:29 pm
Post subject: Bushfires and fuel reductionReply with quote

I'm starting this thread as I'm leaving the climate change one in my rear vision mirror, I'm sick of the bullshit.

I've recently communicated with a school friend who is a card carrying greenie, used to work for greenpeace, still funds them, is a university lecturer in Japan and thinks that "forestry management" or fuel reduction is a myth made up by the Murdoch media.

Unfortunately there's a number of people who seem of the opinion that forestry management and climate change are mutually exclusive when in fact they should be mutually Inclusive. If you believe in climate change, you should support better forestry management. If you don't believe in climate change, then you should still believe in better forestry management.

Lets start with some basics.

https://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/safetyinformation/fire/bushfire/BushfireInfoNotesPublications/DFES-InfoNote-ForestFuelLoadsinUrbanInterface.pdf

Brief 2 pager from the Dept of Emergency Services in WA. Short and succinct. (I'll come back to why WA shortly)

A Key point from here is basic physics. The intensity of a fire is directly attributable to the amount of fuel. Reduce the fuel, you won't stop fires but they'll be less intense and better able to be managed.

Now, the report from the Royal Commission into the Black Saturday bushfires.

http://royalcommission.vic.gov.au/finaldocuments/summary/PF/VBRC_Summary_PF.pdf

On page 15 it states:

Quote:
Land and fuel management
Prescribed burning is one of the main tools for fire management on public land. It cannot prevent bushfire, but it
decreases fuel loads and so reduces the spread and intensity of bushfires. By reducing the spread and intensity
of bushfires, it also helps protect flora and fauna. Ironically, maintaining pristine forests untouched by fuel reduction
can predispose those forests to greater destruction in the event of a bushfire.
About 7.7 million hectares of public land in Victoria is managed by DSE. This area includes national parks, state
forests and reserves, of which a large portion is forested and prone to bushfire. DSE burns only 1.7 per cent
(or 130,000 hectares) of this public land each year. This is well below the amount experts and previous inquiries
have suggested is needed to reduce bushfire and environmental risks in the long term


Now note that the Black Saturday fires didn't really touch where the fires are currently burning, places where fuel reduction activities have been woeful so there was a high volume of fuel waiting to burn. Remember that basic physics?

Now, a federal parliamentary report to the house of reps back in 2003

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House_of_Representatives_Committees?url=bushfires/inquiry/report.htm

Now, why reference WA? Because they have it right.

Quote:
In Western Australia, the Department of Conservation and
Land Management has been conducting prescribed burning
to meet fire protection, forestry and ecological objectives in a
scientific way since the mid-1960s. The planning process
starts seven years in advance of each prescribed burn.
Individual burning guides have been developed through
empirical research for all their major fuel types including dry
Jarrah, to tall wet Karri forest, conifer plantations and Mallee
shrublands.
In the eastern states prescribed burning is largely carried out
using rules of thumb based on a MacArthur’s original
burning guide for dry eucalypt forests produced in the 1960s. Only one specific new burning guide has been developed and
that was for burning under young regeneration of silver top
ash in New South Wales State Forests. Clearly, if prescribed
burning is to be conducted in a more professional way in
New South Wales there is an urgent need for new and better
burning guides that can be applied to a whole range of
different fuel types.95
3.108 This state of affairs was echoed by the IFA:
the states are more or less advanced in the development of
basic fire behaviour information. In some states, principally
WA, there are excellent fire behaviour models that allow
precision burning to be controlled.96



What about the eastern states?

Quote:
The Committee received a considerable body of evidence claiming
that prescribed burning programs across all jurisdictions had
declined. Of particular concern was the decline of the programs in
Victoria.
The Committee received evidence that, in some jurisdictions, the
reporting of the success of a prescribed burn in terms of area burnt
was inflated beyond the areas actually burnt. The Captain of the Mitta
CFA alluded to the problem of over-reporting in Victoria:
When a fire has been started as part of a reduction burn but it
does not ‘take’, the area cannot be set aside as ‘burnt’. It can
be classified as burnt only if, in fact, the fuel has been burnt
effectively.97
3.111 The situation appeared to be no better in New South Wales where Mr
David Glasson reported: ‘In a recent situation National Parks claimed
an 80 percent burn and a local volunteer claimed that 20 percent was
burnt.’98


So what was the recommendation, that hasn't been implemented?

Quote:
Recommendation 12
3.137 The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth through the
National Heritage Trust, offer assistance to the states and the Australian
Capital Territory to develop specific prescribed burning guides, at least
to the quality of Western Australia, for national parks and state forests
through out the mainland of south eastern Australia.


So for those in the TLDR camp, here's my summary of all the information.

1. Fires need fuel to burn. The more fuel, the greater the intensity of the fire.
2. Reducing the amount of fuel doesn't stop fires, it reduces their intensity and makes them more able to be contained
3. Climate change makes it hotter and drier. This doesn't create fuel or increase it's volume, it makes what's already there drier and more succeptible to burn
4. You don't need to pick a side between climate change and fuel reduction FFS. Both need to be managed or this shit is going to be an annual event.

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stui magpie 

Oh the Premiership's a cakewalk


Joined: 03 May 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:38 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

Now that the science has been covered, please find a way to read this article by Andrew Rule in the Herald Sun.

https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/andrew-rule/andrew-rule-time-we-started-fighting-fire-with-fire/news-story/3e4756c73a4edddd1c75bb0b36f9282b

If anyone thinks he's a Murdoch stooge, check his press club credentails and give yourself an uppercut. Highly respected crime journalist who just happened to be raised on a farm in the middle of the Gippsland forest, and a great writer.

https://halloffame.melbournepressclub.com/article/andrew-rule

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pietillidie 



Joined: 07 Jan 2005


PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 5:51 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a fine enough point. But I don't think splitting it off from climate change will help much.

This has been discussed since I was a child, as has the stupidity of allowing people to build in sclerophyll forests. Behold, no advancement.

The common thread with climate change, beyond the obvious way the two work in tandem, is the lack of practical will in Australia to take serious responsibility for anything.

I read reports on the decline of parrot habitats at age 12. In high school geography we toured vast saline deserts and studied indigenous land management, including controlled burning. At university I studied mine pollution (air and water) and the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, including species loss, climate change and alternative energy.

Decades later? No advancement.

Think of the easiest response possible and it is likely to become the 'management' plan:

* Denial
* Scapegoating
* Abandoning shit and cordoning it off
* Cutting shit down
* Burying shit
* Dumping shit in the desert
* Cutting research and management funding in spite

Even the plan to manage asylum seekers simply involves dumping and abandoning.

No pun intended, but I wouldn't be holding my breath waiting for coordinated action on anything, except perhaps efforts to further weaken legislation so the loud-mouthed grifter class can benefit.

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Jezza Taurus



Joined: 05 Sep 2010
Location: Ponsford End

PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 6:21 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

All excellent points, Stui. It's a travesty that back burning and hazard reduction measures have been reduced over the years.

However, it will be ignored by the green-left and everything will be blamed on climate change instead.

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pietillidie 



Joined: 07 Jan 2005


PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 6:51 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

^Scapegoating - check.

It's really the fault of a small relatively powerless group, not the fault of the vast bulk of the nation and the far more powerful segments of society which get what they want with ease.

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stui magpie 

Oh the Premiership's a cakewalk


Joined: 03 May 2005
Location: preparing the Pilosocereus suppository

PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 6:52 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

Cheers Jezza,

Responding to Ptiddy, I get where you're coming from but I see this as a gold plated opportunity to break away from the pick sides, throw rocks, party lines blame game.

WA has maintained a very good burning regime since the 60's, not coincidentally shortly after they had their last major bushfire. They haven't had one of any similar scale since.

The main objectors to controlled burning are the urban green types who want to protect the environment but don't understand that you can't lock up vast tracts of land that are designed to require active management in a time capsule.

If we can harness the current mood and educate those who are convinced that climate change caused the fires, to understand how the bush actually works, then we're on a win win situation.

The population has increased, urban spread into forest areas is/was inevitable, but the urban people who live there don't understand the bush like the people who grew up in it. They like the trees, birds and other wildlife and don't like it being burned because the smoke is annoying and they think it messes with their picture postcard. What they don't get is that by doing nothing, preserving it, they create the ideal conditions for it to burn badly.

4 point plan.

Climate change makes it hotter and drier
Bushfires need fuel, the more fuel the more intense the fire
If we don't actively manage fuel loads, climate change will mean more serious fires
Have a plan to reduce CO2 emissions

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pietillidie 



Joined: 07 Jan 2005


PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:03 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

^Your points are fine enough again, but more needs to accompany them. Also, 'urban green types' are relatively powerless, so you have to ditch the easy scapegoating and focus on the actual power centres stopping proper management.

5. Stop building in sclerophyll forests, phase out high-risk habitation, and contain urban encroachment.

6. Invest in regeneration and arresting species and habitat decline generally to offset more drastic management measures.

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Morrigu Capricorn



Joined: 11 Aug 2001


PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:09 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

Can’t get the quote thing happening - sorry David - I too saw this Facebook post from Queanbeyan Fire and Rescue Station:

<edit – fixed. Thanks, David for BBMods.>

David wrote:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/951618864874073/permalink/2735127049856570/

Quote:
🔥 HAZARD REDUCTION OR BACKBURN? 🔥

K so we’re not going to wade in to politics, it isn’t our job. So maybe leave that out of this.

What it is though, is to establish some facts about hazard reduction burning and backburns which are two VERY different things.

To start, Hazard Reduction burns are exactly as the name suggests. They are specifically designed to minimise hazards (think: heavy ground fuel loading) around urban interface-bush areas. Usually small areas that are designed to lessen the intensity (not stop, that’s key) that a fire will impact that interface. Usually completed in the cooler months when fire behaviour is less intense and much more preferable in a strategic sense than.....

BACKBURNING. Backburning is a tactical option used AFTER a bushfire has started in attempt to burn the fire back on to itself, therefore creating the buffer zone of already burnt ground that can’t be reburnt, obviously. The problem with conducting a backburn is that they’re often done with little time to account for things like flame height, fuel loading, temperature and wind changes and can sometimes increase the size of the fire front. They are often a last resort tactic to again lessen the impact (again, not STOP) of a bushfire.

Political parties of any denomination do NOT influence the decisions of organisations like FRNSW, ACT Fire and Rescue, ACT and NSW Rural Fire Services and Parks and Wildlife Services when choosing when and how to do Hazard Reduction burns. It just doesn’t work like that. The main reason Hazard Reduction burns are cancelled or delayed is due to the predicted intensity of the burn exceeding the limits that would make it safe for firefighters, native flora and fauna and obviously you wonderful people.

Be safe and share the word around 🔥


Here’s their response to a question in the comments about protesters affecting hazard-reduction burns (probably thinking of stories like the one posted above):

Quote:
Shane just as an aside, very rarely have we encountered public complaints to the fire services resulting in reduced prescribed burn sizes. We’re not saying it doesn’t happen but it’s mega rare.

Same with protestors. There might be some examples, but generally in my 13 years experience I’ve never seen a protestor at a prescribed burn.


And here’s a response to a comment about supposedly onerous burn permits:

Quote:
As a fire service we do have to strike a balance between allowing people to privately conduct land management and the overall interest of public safety and that of our native flora and fauna.

There has been quite a number of instances in which privately held hazard reductions have been unable to be contained and ended up causing large wildfires that cause millions of dollars of damage, hence why there’s procedures in place for being issued permits to burn and the like.

We certainly understand your frustrations, lots of our Firies here at 428 are from the bush and have their own large properties.

That one fire that escapes can end up being the size of the Currowan or Gospers Mountain Fire, that’s our bottom line that we have to consider is protecting life and property.


We should all be wary of the propaganda going around on this topic, particularly from conservatives looking to distract attention from the valid criticisms being directed at the government. Blaming the Greens is a particular cheap shot with no basis in truth, but to be expected. Anyway, hopefully this brings a little clarity to the discussion.


Last edited by Morrigu on Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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stui magpie 

Oh the Premiership's a cakewalk


Joined: 03 May 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:09 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

I disagree that urban green types are powerless or that it's scapegoating. Councils have power, they also like to play to their constituents.
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stui magpie 

Oh the Premiership's a cakewalk


Joined: 03 May 2005
Location: preparing the Pilosocereus suppository

PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:15 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

Morrigu wrote:
Saw this as well - easier to copy David’s post
http://www.magpies.org/nick/bb/posting.php?mode=quote&p=1948061


With respect, Davids post is rubbish. Read the links and the facts.

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Pi 



Joined: 13 Feb 2006
Location: SA

PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:23 pm
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This another report from 2002-3 , relate mainly to NSW

https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/Publications_Archive/CIB/cib0203/03Cib08#Prescribed

The main point I took out of it was that there is no simple solution that suits all situations. Some hazard reduction burns were effective in some areas and not in others. A complex subject that has not had any way near the amount of funding needed.

At the moment there are three basic types of burn off:

Hazard reduction burn: the most common usually take place in the winter and requires a fair few permits and correct weather conditions, a bit of a sledge hammer approach in some ways, but effective in harm reduction if done correctly.

Back burning: takes place during a fire, a last resort to stop a large fire.

Cultural burning: very different from a hazard reduction burn, but also part of a solution. Suitable to areas with habitat concerns, comes down to a cooler burning fire.
https://www.foreground.com.au/culture/cultural-burning-can-be-a-vital-fire-management-tool/

All of these things usually require a large trail of bureaucracy and funding; local councils are quite often a major culprit in opposition to anything from a burn off to land fire break clearing or new types of housing for better protection during a fire.

Proximity of private residences also restricts the use of hazard reduction burning, put simply the closer residences get to bush land the harder it gets and the worse it gets when it does finally burn.

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pietillidie 



Joined: 07 Jan 2005


PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:36 pm
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^Stui, that bit Pi added about proper management and the bureaucracy it implies is exactly what I mean when I say look at the proper power centres. Forget the Greens; the monied lobbyists get what they want as soon as they hand cash over to the right people.

Was it that fanatic Abbott who cut into the CSIRO's budget? The work you're quoting will ultimately come from the CSIRO or similar. Again, keep your eye on the real power centre.

You can't free market manage the environment. It's an externality, hence my post about Australia's long history of irresponsibility. The vastness of the country initially made leaving people to be a law unto themselves have few apparent consequences. Well, those days are over where the environment and planning are concerned.

Australia and the US have been deceived by the size of their frontiers and need to lose their colonial mindsets.

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Last edited by pietillidie on Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:40 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Morrigu Capricorn



Joined: 11 Aug 2001


PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:38 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

stui magpie wrote:
Morrigu wrote:
Saw this as well - easier to copy David’s post
http://www.magpies.org/nick/bb/posting.php?mode=quote&p=1948061


With respect, Davids post is rubbish. Read the links and the facts.


So David’s post which directly quoted what an actual fire service - you know those people who actually make the decisions and do the work stated is rubbish - yeah ok Rolling Eyes
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David Libra

Rose with a violent heart


Joined: 27 Jul 2003
Location: où surréal côtoie

PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 8:56 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

My thoughts exactly, Morrigu. Stui, you can disagree with my conclusion, but I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the observations of the people who are in charge of the precise thing you started this thread to discuss. Wouldn’t they know a little more about what they’re talking about than most of us here?

Another thing I don’t get is why you keep going on about urban greenies and local councils that are supposedly in thrall to them. How many shires in East Gippsland or the NSW south coast have elected Green councillors? How many have had their towns colonised by inner-city latte sippers? Maybe I’m wrong and Orbost is the new Brunswick East, but if not then I have no idea where you’re getting this stuff from.

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KenH Gemini



Joined: 24 Jan 2010


PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 9:11 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

I live in the bush with a State park backing onto our our backyard, it desperately needs a controlled burn and has so for many years. I am not blaming the Greens as why this has not been done because they have no influence to stop this! I know this because I have been asking this to be done and the answer I get is that it is on the list to be done (2 years ago) but they haven't had the time and resources to get it done safely. It seems that the easy answer is to blame the Greens! I am so over all the hate that the Greens get and I try not to respond to the dickheads who presume they know it all!
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