There’s increasing discussion about how Australia is going to recover from the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 attack. In this context we think it’s worth thinking about a proposal submitted to the Prime Minister by the Australian Conservation Foundation, the National Farmers Federation, Landcare Australia and many other farming and conservation groups. The full proposal can be found here. The gist of the proposal is that ‘During the period of economic recovery, there is scope for tens of thousands of skilled and unskilled workers to be employed in the conservation and land management sector’ in roles that are:
View from the Nuggety Ranges: Farmer, Landcare and Conservation groups have argued that restoration of land health should be a priority in future economic recovery programs.
‘ – practical and labour intensive;
‘- located in both regional and metropolitan areas;
‘- appropriate for repurposing existing workforces which are under pressure, including tradespeople and workers in the tourism, fisheries and forestry sectors; and,
‘- will not create long-term structural commitments in the budget.’
The proposal is costed at about $4 billion. It proposes investment in the following areas:
- a surge in weed control efforts, focussed on containment and preventing cross-tenure spread;
- river and wetland restoration, including fencing, revegetation and erosion control;
- national park infrastructure, track maintenance and park management (fire, weeds, feral animals);
- bushfire recovery and resilience activities, including infrastructure repairs and habitat restoration;
Following the summer’s fire disasters, the Inspector General for Emergency Management is running an enquiry into Victoria’s response to bushfire. Among many other things, the enquiry will ‘Review … all opportunities and approaches to bushfire preparedness, including different methods of fuel and land management (for example ‘cool burning’, mechanical slashing, integrated forest management, traditional fire approaches) to protect life and property as well as ecological and cultural values.’ [The theme echoes paragraphs (f) and (g) of the national Royal Commission, which you can find here]
FOBIF will be making a brief submission to the IGEM enquiry, focusing on this theme. We are concerned that crude fuel reduction can become a simplistic response to the fire threat, and even a way of avoiding the more complex challenges of land and fire management.
Submissions are open till April 30.
Individuals and organisations are invited to provide submissions, addressing the Terms of Reference, through:
- emailing a submission to firstname.lastname@example.org
- mailing a submission to:
- Inspector-General for Emergency Management GPO Box 4356 Melbourne VIC 3000
- completing an online submission here.
And amidst the gloom, let’s not forget that things are happening out there:
Acacia genistifolia, Kalimna Park, April 12: this wattle flowers for most of the year. Do we take it for granted?
Andrew Skeoch, is live streaming his morning bushwalks each day on his listening earth FB page – starting 7.30am. Andrew is a well-known environmentalist and nature sound recordist who lives on a large bush block in Strangways. Watching his daily one hour video is a great way to forget about being cooped up. You can visually immerse yourself in the bush while listening to Andrew’s interesting commentary and a variety of bird calls which are of course all identified by Andrew.
You can view this Monday’s walk (April 6) here
Paula Peeters Froggy colouring book is another possibility. This electronic PDF book is free and according to local frog expert, Elaine Bayes, ‘is a work of art and totally scientifically correct for flora and fauna’. It follows the Southern Bell Frog’s journey, from tiny egg, to tadpole, to a young frog.
This is one of the book’s pages.
Paula Peeters has an interesting website with lots of other nature resources.
With great regret we have suspended the 2020 FOBIF Walks Program due to the COVID-19 health crisis and the current regulations and restrictions. The April geology tour is therefore cancelled, and subsequent walks are also called off. When the program resumes we’ll post details on this site.
The April FOBIF committee meeting will not take place and future meetings will be managed by electronic link-up.
Please continue to follow our web page as it’s a great way to keep in touch; and we hope that you all enjoy our wonderful bush over the coming months.
Finding your activities a bit restricted by new regulations connected to the pandemic? Well, there’s always reading, and as it happens the March issue of the Wombat Forestcare newsletter is out. As usual it’s full of good stuff. You can find it here.
Article topics include the Powerful Owl, the rare Bossiaea vombata, tree creepers and Greater Gliders. In these tough times it’s good to get a bit of inspiration. Here’s Alison Pouliot at the conclusion of her article about fungi in Australia and North America:
‘I am constantly inspired by the Australians I work with from farmers to foresters to conservationists. I admire their flexibility and openness to innovation and new ideas, as well as their willingness to embrace change – that is, their response-ability. The conservation movement urges us to take greater responsibility for our actions. ‘Responsibility’ is sometimes misinterpreted in the context of blame and culpability, or power and control. However, a more positive take on the word revives our response-ability, that is, our ability to respond. We live in the most highly variable and unpredictable climate in the world. We live in an ancient landscape that has shifted and shaped through time and is unforgiving. It is the challenge of uncertainty that drives creative thinking, fuels response-ability and action. Australians’ resilience and response-ability could be our greatest contribution to climate change action within Australia and beyond.’
The pic below shows a stretch of the Railway Dam road north of the Fryers Ridge Road. Significant numbers of sizeable trees have been cut down: ‘hazardous tree removal’ in preparation for DELWP’s upcoming management burn.
This exercise is a reminder of the Department’s tree massacre on Mount Alexander last year, in which we were informed (after numerous enquiries) that all trees had been checked by an arborist before removal. And, further back, we had some bizarre lopping and felling of small trees along Forest Creek , supposedly for safety reasons.
With the best will in the world, we’re getting sceptical of the kind of expertise that waves a wand over these activities…
DELWP is about to conduct its Tunnel Hill management burn (CAS 073), in the area bounded by Railway Dam road, Fryers Ridge Road and Tunnel Hill track. You can find an interactive map of the area here.
In the zone, near the Railway Dam road: the stuff in the foreground is rich litter habitat…or dangerous fuel…or both: choices about how to regard this kind of landscape govern approaches to fire safety and forest health.
The fire zone is a particularly interesting part of the Fryers Forest. It includes the interpreted Junction Walk established by the Department some years ago, and is popular with free campers.
The intention of this exercise is to ‘To develop fuel reduced areas of sufficient width and continuity to reduce the speed and intensity of bushfires.’ Ecological concerns are definitely in the background. We’ll see if they feature at all. The preliminary tree clearance is not a hopeful sign.
In the light of the upcoming management burn in Kalimna Park, here are a couple of photos to brood on. They were taken at a point on the Circuit Walk track last week. One side of the track was burned by DELWP five years ago, and looks like this:
Fuel reduced bush: plenty of flammable Cassinia and other understorey plants…
The other side was not burned, and looks like this:
Directly opposite the photo above: unburnt bush, with apparently lots less fuel.
On the face of it, the unburned section has less fuel than the ‘fuel reduced’ section. The photos illustrate the complexity of fuel reduction exercises. Contrary to widespread belief, fuel reduction burns don’t vacuum up all the fuel, leaving it nice and safe: they may provoke prolific regrowth, and even increase the fuel load. That’s why detailed research should accompany every burn, to show all aspects of the exercise, ecological and safety related. This, of course, would cost a lot of money…
DELWP has put a lot of research effort into the upcoming burn, perhaps provoked by the efforts of community workers to document the presence of the Copper Butterfly. Its preparation works for this exercise have provoked some disquiet. We’ll report on these in future posts.
Here’s the latest in our never ending series on dumb rubbish dumping in our bushlands. That pair of display boards is very distinctive. They look like they’re designed to fit on the back of a truck for advertising purposes. Surely someone could recognise them and trace the dump to its source?
Rubbish dumped near the Fryers Ridge Road/Old Coach road junction, March 25: the display boards look quite distinctive…could they be recognisable?