Fight fire with forestry
inhabited parts of the country - all up about one hundred and twenty that clearing for agriculture and towns since 1788, it’s estimated that we still have about 87% of the forest cover which confronted Captain Phillip and crew when they stepped ashore.
That we still have such abundant bushland is a credit to our early planners and current tight rules on clearing. But we frankly have to get better at managing the risks.
To generate a burst of angry letters to the editor of any newspaper, all I need now do is say two words; ‘biomass removal’. Most average people won’t even know what I am talking about. But to those who see our bushland as a vast cathedral which should not be touched, ‘biomass removal’ is the evil which can’t be spoken.
Biomass removal just means the taking away of some of the fuel load from our bush. It is exactly what we do when we burn off. It is also exactly what happens, but on a massive and out-of-control scale,
The biomass is certainly removed then.
In the USA it happens all the time with barely a raised eyebrow. President Obama is part way through a four hundred million dollar ‘forest landscape restoration’ program, which has as a core mechanism, paying operators to take machines in and carefully and strategically take out some of the crowding trees and shrubs. The landscape becomes more open, the remaining trees grow higher and stronger and the
But here? Oh no not here. Biomass removal is too hot to touch. This is despite evidence of tree overcrowding in parts of the country which, combined with drought,
My friends in the green movements who are implacably opposed to touching our forests in this way cry, “it’s the thin end of the wedge!” They say, “if we let folks remove any trees they will go for the lot”.
I try to explain that we can put parameters around what can be used. I tell them there are already laws and regulations around harvesting practices and sound forest management which protect soils and water, habitat and environmental amenity.
And the tragedy is that if the bush is not thinned out in this careful way, it will happen in a far more
rushes through. January scorched 95% of the Warrumbungles National Park and it will be decades before it fully recovers. The thousands of hectares containing dead gums down Kosciusko way still stand like armies of barren sentinels almost Victorians will of course never truly recover from the catastrophic deaths of 173 people on Black Saturday in 2009.
I tell my green friends
greenhouse gas emissions through last year alone pumped another 350 million tonnes into the atmosphere.
the reserves set aside for the Victorian Leadbeaters Possum which went up that forestry as an industry is put at risk every year as we never know destroying part of our 2.1 million hectares of gum trees and pine trees in plantations.
escarpment around Katoomba and all over Australia, I live in hope that this will be the year we agree to have a rational discussion about carefully managed fuel reduction. Can ‘biomass removal’ perhaps speak its name?
Maybe this will be the summer said to repeat the same activity over and over and expect a different result is insanity.