Saltbush club takes a grown-up approach to manage bushfires

Australia must re-establish the successful mild fire burning regimes of the past if we are to maintain a healthy safe landscape for sustainable vegetation, wildlife and people, according to Australia One leader Riccardo Bosi.

“If we don’t do what our first Australians did for at least 40,000 years before white settlement, we face a dangerous and destructive landscape as our population cowers in suburban and rural enclaves surrounded by a tinderbox of pest-ridden weeds, scrub and litter,” Mr Bosi said.

He said he agreed with Saltbush Club executive director Viv Forbes that Australia must adopt a five-point plan that should come from Bushfire Inquiry, Number 58.

“First, the Saltbush Plan calls for safe and healthy public forests by appointing trained and experienced foresters who have authority and resources to reduce fuel loads, particularly in national parks and forests, through cool-season burning or by combinations of grazing, timber harvesting, slashing and mulching, and collecting dead fire-wood,” he said.

“This first step includes enabling and obligating private landowners to become fire safe, subject only to local fire wardens”.

Mr Bosi said the plan’s next step would be to create and maintain wide clear trafficable roads, tracks and firebreaks through forests and around towns and private properties.

“In fire seasons, these patrolled fire-barriers will help to confine any fire to one sector and provide a prepared line from which to back burn when a fire approaches,” he said.

“And penalties for arson should be increased during times of high fire danger.”

He said the Saltbush Plan’s third point was to build more dams and weirs to provide water for fire-fighting and as fire havens for people, animals and vegetation.

Abolishing restrictions on managing “protected” vegetation on private land is the fourth step, as described in the plan, that needs to be sensibly handled, especially on private land that has been sterilised simply to fulfil government Kyoto Protocol promises or under local and state government vegetation protection rules and regulations.

“Governments have created these fire hazards by trying to wrap vast areas of vegetation in cotton wool and green tape (both of which are flammable) and sadly, government ‘protection’ of flora and fauna has proved to be the fiery kiss of death for both,” Mr Bosi said.

He said the fifth and last point of the Saltbush Plan would be to decentralise fuel and forest management out of cities and into the regions.

“City-based politicians and bureaucrats have done enormous harm by locking up land and opposing fuel-load reduction,” he said.

“Decisions on vegetation risk management should be handed to property owners, park rangers, forest managers and rural fire wardens.

“Once again, we see that people like Viv Forbes and the Saltbush Club have identified and described practical, effective and inexpensive solutions to this and many other perennial problems.

“If incompetent politicians and bureaucrats just got out of the way and let the people get on with it, Australia would be a whole lot better off.”