The issue of who started the fire at Donnelly’s Creek is of little importance when compared with the lack of government action in instituting broad scale fuel reduction measures.
In addition, the criticisms of the media when a controlled fire escapes has been a real disincentive for land managers to do their jobs.
For at least 30 years, governments in Victoria have “cut costs” by reducing staff levels in remote areas.
The former 380,000 hectare per annum fuel reduction measures have been abandoned because of adverse reporting in the media.
Fire controllers, through no fault of their own, have suffered severe castigation at the hands of a media that is intent upon sensationalism and profits before public interest.
It is time for media to support fuel reduction burning and for government to ensure that at least five per cent per annum of public land is managed correctly.
Those who oppose fuel reduction burning, favouring instead the ‘closed canopy’ policy of European trained foresters such as Charles Lane-Poole, should understand that the deciduous forests of Europe are quite different to the eucalyptus forests of Australia.
Also, our native flora and fauna survive fuel reduction burning but they will not last much longer if we allow these super hot fires to continue.
These include: 1998, Caledonia River; 2003, East Gippsland and the Murray River Catchment and on to the ACT; 2006-07, Gippsland; 2009, central Victoria; and 2012-13, Gippsland, Violet Town, Mt Hotham.
Well over two million hectares.
If we don’t give the native flora and fauna the fire regime that they know, we stand to lose the lot.