How to stop bushfire Groundhog Day

Fire over Glen Huon
The Jan/Feb 2019 fire over Glen Huon, in southern Tasmania

If you have an interest in Tasmania’s future, please read this translated article about the future of fighting bushfires, according to Marc Castellnou, who is the Forestry Action Group (GRAF) of the Firefighters of Catalonia chief, and a former EU fire advisor.

He says: “The era of firefighting is ending and the era of landscape management is beginning … there is no capacity to extinguish the big fires, you have to manage the landscape. Large fires are entering areas where they are not expected. They have stopped being the exceptionality to start being the norm.”

Asked if people could live safely next to forest in the Mediterranean, he said: “Yes, if you have a lowered fuel load. But an unmanaged forest, which lacks species, or with an impoverished ecosystem, will burn. The answer must always be to look for healthy landscapes and, whether for mature forests or for forest management, to remove fuel from the landscape, and this has never been done in modern times.”

To reiterate, he says the future of fighting the world’s intensifying wildfires is landscape management, as it is impossible to stop big fires once they get going.

Clearly, Tassie is in a difficult place, given its endless tracts of drying pine monoculture and eucalypt forests, in a windy climate, with hot, dry summers.

Unfortunately, when burned, the flammable eucalypts quickly grow back and there is no gradual change to a less flammable landscape.

Southern Tasmania’s burned areas are already growing back after the Jan/Feb 2019 fires.

Pine plantations near towns will grow more dangerous with every year of warmer, drier, windier weather.

Weather data shows southern Australia is becoming increasingly dry, and Tasmania seems to have a growing propensity for lightning strikes. The wind is famously, at times, gale force.

Is Tassie condemned to a Groundhog Day of intense bushfires?

The solution, according to the above article, requires a little more than the famous “raking” that Donald Trump espoused.

Large scale forest removal/fuel reduction is a radical solution.

Will it take a disaster to implement it?

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Tasmanian Life