It has suddenly become politically correct to acknowledge that disruption of Aboriginal burning caused megafires in Australia before any hint of supposed industrial climate change.
A taxpayer subsidised outlet for woke academics – The (one-sided) Conversation – has trumpeted ‘world-first research’ ‘confirming’ that scrub invasion and heavy continuous fuels cause megafires
‘Australia’s current fire crisis can therefore trace its origins back to the colonial suppression of Indigenous cultural burning.’
The academics are just catching on to what experienced land managers – black, white, and brindle – have known all along. After 500 homes were lost and people died in Canberra’s 2003 disaster, the House of Reps Inquiry took their advice and concluded that we weren’t managing the land properly with mild fire.
South-eastern bureaucracies boycotted that Inquiry and gave us the 2004 Council of Australian Governments (COAG) cover-up. So governments threw zillions of dollars at Fire Chiefs and Green Academics instead of sustainable land management. They gave us ‘education’, evacuation, and futile emergency response with armies of fire engines and air forces of waterbombers.
Since COAG lectured us about ‘Learning to Live with Bushfires’, more than 200 people have tragically died unnecessarily.
Death and destruction by megafires is still increasing, so the emergency generalissimos and academic experts have used the climate cop-out to cover their derrieres. After Black Summer, our Prime Minister set up the Royal Commission with a military man and two academics to ‘validate’ the cop-out. We’re burning more and more money on firefighting and academic modelling.
It’s great to see that some modelling has finally come up with almost the right answer. But it was a total waste of time and money:
‘Our primary objective was to address two research questions: (1) was there an observable change in the composition and structure of vegetation after British colonisation compared to pre-1788 baselines, and (2) was there an increase in the amount of biomass burned over the same period?’
Of course, there was an observable change – explorers observed and recorded it. For example, Mitchell wrote:
‘The omission of the annual periodical burning by natives, of the grass and young saplings, has already produced in the open forest lands nearest to Sydney, thick forests of young trees, where, formerly, a man might gallop without impediment, and see whole miles before him. Kangaroos are no longer to be seen there; the grass is choked by underwood; neither are there natives to burn the grass.’
There was a huge increase in the amount of biomass burned as a consequence. Two of the authors of this ‘world-first’ research also have their names on a decade-old paper reporting an unprecedented spike in charcoal deposition over 70,000 years of sedimentary records.
The green academics now find it politically correct to tell the truth about these changes because it fits a narrative of ‘forced removal’ of people from traditional lands. But changes had already occurred in many areas of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania before European occupation as a result of smallpox and flu epidemics.
For example, when Europeans started clearing the dense young forests of the Strzelecki Ranges they found spear points, stone axes, grindstones, and clay cooking ovens indicating that it was open country not long before.
The turnaround in academic attitudes is quite remarkable. A decade ago, two of the authors saw no correlation between Aboriginal occupation and fire regimes. Now they say that fire regimes were ‘deeply intertwined’ with Aboriginal culture. Incredibly, they cite the old paper to support this statement.
All of the authors of the ‘world-first paper’ agree on this: ‘Recent fires indicate that, as currently practiced, hazard reduction burning is insufficient to decrease fire risk.’
Experienced land managers of all colours have been telling them this for a very long time.
Vic Jurskis is a former senior NSW Forestry Commission professional forester. In 2004 he was awarded a Fellowship by the Joseph William Gottstein Memorial Trust to investigate eucalypt decline across Australia. He has published two books, Firestick Ecology, and The Great Koala Scam, both available from Connor Court.
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