Australia’s Bushfire Legacy : An Ash Oracle

The Victorian Bushfires and Australia’s Bushfire Legacy highlight Australia’s environmental future regarding Urban and Rural Planning within an Australian Fire Prone Landscape.  Stephen J. Pyne,  (professor at Arizona State University and author of two FIRE books – “Burning Bush: A Fire History of Australia” 1991 and “The Still-Burning Bush”  2006), wrote a ‘must read’ article in The Australian’s Opinion column on January 10th 2009.  

Professor Pyne’s article  ” Bushfire leader becomes laggard”   highlights the need for Australians to look beyond the ARSON and GLOBAL WARMING perspective to what is right under our Aussie sunscreened noses and our romantic virgin green environmental mindsets:

1. The Australian Bush is a complex, diverse and dynamic feature  – critically important to our sustainable future. Fire is an integral part of this dynamic environmental heritage across the vast and diverse regional forest, woodland and grassland habitats of Australia.

2. Global Warming and Arson consequences underline our urgent need to properly understand and manage fire in our urban and rural landscapes. However, fire storms in many parts of Australia can, and will still occur regardless of Global Warming and Arson.

3. Urban and Rural Planning play a critical role in Fire Storm defense as Germaine Greer so aptly and forcefully suggests in her recent article in The Times online .

Urban & Rural and Regional Planning roles should include above and beyond what is already current (**see links below):

  • Clear, practical, easy to access and understand guidelines for regional and local  fire management strategies
  • Pro-active support of trained Rural Fire Authorities by all levels of government via technology and substantially increased capital inputs and educational outreach centres 
  • Building and infrastructure design guidelines, including shelters and building & infrastructure industry codes 
  • Development design guidelines geared to Biodiversity & Fire Regimes
  • Biodiversity maintenance based on sound local knowledge and not hypothetical “money talks”  nature disassociated  engineering principles
  • Community education
  • Consultation with local indigenous peoples who carry with them oral instruction on local fire management, 
  • AND, above all, taking the emotional response out of fire management and placing it back into the hands of those that understand the nature of fire, instead of misguided political movers and shakers

4. Each and every child in Australia should have, at the core of their education syllabus:-

  • Environmental Education on equitable terms with Economic Education (something that was not created by the 2020 Summit) : including Fire Education and Land Stewardship  
  • Fire understanding, from pre-school level, that goes beyond how to put out a small fire or survival when the smoke alarm rings in the school ground  
  • National syllabus should include starting, controlling  and putting out fires, understanding the nature of the different types of fires that our future will present to them and how to LIVE with FIRE 
  • Understanding the role of fire in Australian Vegetation Landscapes and Habitats, the dynamics & cycles of Vegetation Communities and the history of Fire Management in Australia
  • Recognising fire prone landscapes, situations and seasons
  • Knowledge of fire defense (back burning, burning off, fuel management in landscapes), community fire warnings and emergency procedures    

pk_ponders_a_big_fire_in_mt_warning_caldera_region

Phantom Koala ponders a big fire in the Mt Warning Caldera Region! Chin Ting says: “Don’t worry PK, if the fires come – You can run into the surrounding bushland….. that is….. if the PLANNING LAWS promote sensible prescribed burning and keep enough safe places for you to run to”

**Links: 

Searching for Fire Management Guidelines in the NSW Government Department of Planning – Planning Guidelines for Hazardous Development appears to still be in the pipeline?  (Hazardous Industry Planning Advisory Paper No2. : Fire Safety Study Guidelines Consultation Draft July 2008 )  

Bushfire Guidelines : NSW Government Department of Planning

NSW Rural Fire Service 

Searching for Fire Management Guidelines in the Qld Department of Infrastructure & Planning  – here is the Current Qld Government’s Planning & Development Laws list

Qld Government : Department of Infrastructure and Planning :- Planning and Growth

Qld Government State Planning Policies : including Guideline for SPP1/03 Mitigating the Adverse Impacts of  Flood, Bushfire and Landslide 1.0

Qld Rural Fire Service

http://fhsarchives.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/historian-stephen-j-pyne-on-the-australian-fires/

Nature Conservation Council of NSW : 25th July 2008 Re: National Koala Conservation Strategy Review – Nature Conservation Council Submission  

COAG 2003 Bushfire Enquiry  ” The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference … issues related to bushfire mitigation and management that are of national significance;  opportunities for enhanced cooperation and the adoption of national best practice. The Inquiry took account of the work and findings of other bushfire inquiries.” findings released 24th Jan 2005.  Find the report here at Report of the National Inquiry into Bushfire Mitigation and Management  at the COAG website

“a review of current knowledge and literatue assist in determining ecologically sustainable fire regimes for the southeast queensland region” 2000 at Cuong Tran Southeast Queensland Fire and Biodiversity Consortium page on the COAG website

Bluecray.org FIRE links

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2 Responses to “Australia’s Bushfire Legacy : An Ash Oracle”

  1. Len Says:

    “The Victorian Bushfires and Australia’s Bushfire Legacy highlight Australia’s environmental future regarding Urban and Rural Planning within an Australian Fire Prone Landscape.”

    What does that sentence mean?

    Australia’s environment does not have a future.

  2. bluecray Says:

    My point here, was to liken the fires and Australian fire heritage as a light that burns (rather fiercely at times) much like a theatre’s spotlight upon our environmental planning & social forum “stage”.
    The direction that urban and rural planning will take, following this tragic event, is in the spotlight. My “oracle” sentiments rest in hope, faith and conviction.
    A conviction that, should common sense and practical historical insight prevail, a new methodology for sustainable and meaningful healthy “Australian” lifestyle can be projected onto this social stage and it’s tragic play ( and I do not mean to belittle the human and animal suffering of this ongoing event). I am trying to convey that the spotlight is there, highlighting our actions and future directions. We have inherited a complex history steeped in the harshness and wondrous renewal that fire brings to living creatures on earth. It is up to the urban and rural planning authorities to step up to the mark and now play their part in this renewal. Our future in a fire prone landscape is very much dependent on planning choices and directions. The biodiversity of the Australian “environment” and the opportunity for future generations to enjoy these bio diverse environments is also very dependent on these future choices. However, be as that may, nature WILL go on regardless, and i am hoping that by learning from our past, our planners of urban and rural developments will learn how to plan wise development, so that future generations do not have to live through this type of holocaust event again through inappropriate development. Hold to the vision, shine a light on it, and go forward… that is the best way I know how, to get to the future. However, it is wise to also carry some of the best of the past with us, as well, to help us on our way……

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