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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
Bushfire reportage: Unconfirmed 300 plus dead, questions of systemic govt land use failure
Topic: aust govt

Reading between the lines - the closed 'crime scene', the royal commission announcement, the eye witness testimony of houses exploding from immense radiant heat, and no effective warnings, leading pollies warning 'the nation to prepare itself for worse news' - we can estimate deaths at 300 plus up from 173. Crikey ezine suggested as much in an unconfirmed rumour yesterday.

The democratic process of adversarial debate has begun and it will be ferocious. For example from logging loyalists like Wilson Tuckey. This industry has targeted moist Old Growth closed canopy forest for 50 years, a forest type which traps high humidity and mitigates bushfire intensity. There is barely 10% of forest landscapes of this type now, including national park reserves in recent years out of previous logging areas.

A patchwork of dry sclerophyl replaces the wet forest and this has happened over landscapes and regions. It's a tinder box creating a firestorm of brutal radiant heat and hailstorm of embers in a predatory vanguard. This dry forest is quite obvious to anyone in a re-growth forest logged a few years earlier with bare earth etc compared to a now rare moist old growth canopy like this in the constantly damp misty forests of Monga on the NSW South Coast:

The great tragedy is this patchworking of landscape and change of forest is a downward spiraling process of drying. More fragmentation means more disruption of water cycle and bigger tinder box. Regrowth is often referred to as hairs on the back of the dog. And they burn.

For a decade now conservationists involved in Koala protection have reported a slow die back in the forest regions of the NSW South Coast. This may well be encroaching drought, changed water cycles from land use disuptions like logging, and yes creeping climate change with reduced rainfall patterns.

As a logging representative stated in the big press only a month ago based in Tasmania: 'It's good to log these forests because their natural stages of progression is to convert in to rainforest.' Wet forest progressing to rainforest is exactly what you want in a bushfire prone country. But logging policies have sent us on a pathway to bare earth and fierce burning every 5 or 10 years.

Here is a gallery of logging we put together for the controversial Wandella/Peak Alone area near Cobargo, NSW South Coast, in March 2006 after logging in 2005, .


Same story of fragmentation and drying out of the natural high humidity healthy forests here at Monga and here at Deua.

There is very little moist high humidity Old Growth forest left in 21C Australia as shown below here in East Gippsland at a place called Brown Mountain as per this gallery taken March 2005 and shown below (recently targeted for logging late 2008, not shown):


We submit we are are experiencing a bushfire impact that relates to this much lower humidity highly fragmented landscape combined with drought relating to lower rainfall from creeping climate change. The loggers hate this advice because it puts them in the picture big time when it comes to wildfire, ever since highly mechanised high volume woodchipping began in the 1960ies.

And none of this addresses local planning and buffer zones on the town bush interface, arson, or indeed smouldering post logging burns which are routine in the logging industry and well known to flare up - sometimes weeks or even months after the loggers have moved on. according to one eye witness we know.

Posted by editor at 7:13 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 10 February 2009 9:03 AM EADT

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