Posts Tagged ‘Rural Fire Starters’

RFS forest arson contributes to carbon emissions

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

The Rural Fire Starters (RFS) of New South Wales have set fire to Blue Mountains World Heritage yet again.

They call it ‘Hazard Reduction’ because they deem native habitat to be a hazardous fuel, nothing more.  Government is dominated by men and women in power their sixties (Baby Boomers currently).   Their worldview is anthropcentric if not a contempt for ecology and the survival conservation of Australia’s wildlife fauna.  They consider native forests to be mere ‘parks’ for human recreation.  Their forebears happily shot wildlife as vermin.

So yet again more vast areas of native forest habitat have been incinerated as if it were a wildfire.  The hazard reduction flames reach fully up into the tree canopy in the same way.  Hazard Reduction is government condoned bush arson.  It is a prime cause of local wildlife extinction.

 

Hazard Reduction adversely alters Forest Ecology

Hazard Reduction used to the intensity, canopy height and broad scale of a wildfire is no different to wildfires in ecological impact.   Deliberate bush arson whether by arsonists or government sanctioned, harm native habitat.   The penchant for increased fire regimes out of fear of government incapacity to deal with wildfires, has inculcated a mindset of a ‘burn the bush before it burns‘ mentality.

When applied to moist Closed Forest ecosystems, hazard reduction dries out the delicate moist microclimate.  The complex topsoil chemistry is destroyed.  Only fire resistant flora regenerate; other species die and do not return.  The forest become more bushfire prone.   Wildlife perishes especially territorial wildlife.    The close forests become drier Open Forest Parks – ones you can more easily walk through. 

“Bushfire danger is increasing as a consequence of climate change predicted by scientists.   Heavy logging and burning of forests increases rather than decreases flammability.  Forests permitted to exist in their natural state (with dense shading canopies and intact boundaries) lose less moisture from drying wind and direct sun. An unlogged forest can remain cooler and damper – for longer.  It has been demonstrated that it can slow, and even halt a fire.” – Dr Chris Taylor, Ecologist at the University of Melbourne, in the journal Conservation Letters 2014.

“Fuel hazard is often assumed to increase with fuel age, or the time-since-fire. However, studies on fuel hazard in long-unburned forests are scarce. We measured overall fuel hazard in Eucalyptus forests and woodlands in south-eastern Australia at 81 sites where time-since-fire spans 0.5 years to at least 96 years. Overall fuel hazard was higher in forests and woodlands burned 6–12 years previously than those unburned for at least 96 years.

The probability of high, very high or extreme overall fuel hazard – which is an operational threshold considered to equate with almost no chance of wildfire suppression in severe fire-weather – was highest 0.5–12 years post-fire, and lowest where fire had not occurred for at least 96 years. Frequent burning can maintain forest understorey in an early successional ‘shrubby’ state, leading to higher overall fuel hazard than forests where a lack of fire is associated with the senescence of shrubs.

Protecting long-unburned sites from fire and managing to transition a larger proportion of forest to a long-unburned state may benefit fuel-hazard management within these forests in the long-term.”  (Source:  International Journal of Wildland Fire, 20180723, (Refer Note 1 in Further Reading).

 

Hazard Reduction fuels Carbon Emissions

The toxic wood smoke blankets communities and the entire Sydney basin as the prevaling westerly wind  drives the choking smoke for a hundred kilometres.

Thick smoke from a prescribed arson by the RFS in precious forext habitat around Faulconbridge and Springwood has blanketed the entire Sydney basin just like what happens regularly in Beijing.

The wood smoke is expected to last for days and health warnings have been issued by the New South Wales government who approved the burning.  NSW Health has warned that people with existing heart and lung conditions should avoid outdoor physical activity.  NSW’s Office of Environment has labelled Sydney’s air quality “poor” and warned people with health issues to stay indoors.

Outside the RFS Bushfire Season (September to March), this is the contra Habitat Reduction Season (April to August).  If the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area isn’t subjected to arson wildfire in the on-season, it is targeted by arson habitat reduction in the off-season.  The impact is the same.

“These are important controlled burns which will reduce the risk to people and properties from bush fires,” NSW RFS said in a statement.

Up to 30 tonnes of CO2 per forested hectare is emitted by bushfires and hazard reduction alike, according to Philip Gibbons , Senior Lecturer at the Australian National University; more than coal-fired power stations.

“Burning biomass inevitably releases CO₂ (Carbon Dioxide),  CH₄ (methane), N₂O (Nitrous Oxide) and other greenhouse gases (GHG) to the atmosphere. Emissions from vegetation fires account for about 3% of global GHG emissions.  Bushfires in Australia burn over 500,000 km² annually, mainly in the northern half of the country. They account for about 6-8% of global fire emissions and contribute significantly (about 3%) to the nation’s net GHG emissions.”  – Matthias Boer, Researcher, Western Sydney University.

Bushfire smoke contains particulate matter, respiratory irritants and carcinogens such as benzene and formaldehyde.  These can travel for thousands of kilometres. Hazard reduction burns, which are being conducted more frequently due to climate change, also contribute to increased pollution.

In 2009  bushfires, back-burning and hazard reduction emitted an amount of CO2 equivalent to 2% of Australia’s annual emissions from coal-fired power.  Bushfires burnt an area of forest greater than Tasmania to generate CO2 emissions equivalent to a year of burning coal for electricity.  Bushfires must burn an area of forest the size of New South Wales to generate CO2 emissions equivalent to a decade of burning coal for electricity.

Wildfires and hazard reduction across Australia released millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere, equivalent to more than a third of the country’s CO2 emissions for a whole year, according to scientists.

The climate costs are dire because of the type of forest that burned, according to Mark Adams of the University of Sydney. “Once you burn millions of hectares of eucalypt forest, then you are putting into the atmosphere very large amounts of carbon.”    

Because hazard reduction burns have been increasingly more widespread and deliberately encouraged to blanket a wide landscape , rather than edge low level and mosaic in pattern, hazard reduction burns are litteldifferent in impact that wildlfires.  A high-intensity burning into the tree canopy causes equivalent forest carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

Australia’s total emissions per year are around 330m tonnes of CO2. Adams’ previous research has shown that the bush fires in 2003 and 2006-07 had put up to 105m tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere because they burned up land carrying 50 to 80 tonnes of carbon per hectare.

This time, however, the forests being destroyed are even more carbon-rich, with more than 100 tonnes of above-ground carbon per hectare. The affected area is more than twice the size of London and takes in more than 20 towns north of Melbourne, so the CO2 emissions from this year’s disaster could be far larger than previous fires.

So ‘hazard reduction’, ‘fuel reduction’, ‘prescribed burning’, or indeed the more honest term ‘government arson’ – must cease because it releases vast quantities of CO2 and other toxic chemicals that pollute the atmosphere.

“The world’s forests are crucial to the long-term future of the planet as they lock away millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide,” said Robin Webster, a climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “More must be done to protect them – deforestation is having a devastating effect and as climate change takes hold, forest fires like those in Australia are likely to become more frequent.”

The carbon dioxide emissions from forest fires are not counted under the agreements made by countries in the Kyoto Protocol, though it is being considered for inclusion in the successor treaty that will be debated later this year in Copenhagen. The usual reasoning behind it was that, with any fires, new growth of vegetation would take up any extra CO2 that had been released. “That is true to a point, but if the long-term fire regime changes – we are now starting to have more fires – we may completely change the carbon balance of the forest,” said Adam.

He added: “All informed scientific opinion suggests that whatever new protocol is signed [at the UN summit] in Copenhagen or elsewhere will include forest carbon, simply because to not do so would be to ignore one of the biggest threats to the global atmospheric pool of carbon dioxide, the release of carbon in fires.”

“Nature reserves are areas of land in predominantly untouched, natural condition, with high conservation value.  Their primary purpose is to protect and conserve their outstanding, unique or representative ecosystems and Australian native plants and animals.”

NPWS has become more an agent for Tourism than Conservation

The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service is a state government entity and the sole custodian of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, the state’s 870 national parks, and nature reserves.   It’s management has the same recreational mindset of the RFS, that national parks are set aside areas of recreation for humans to play in, not remnant habitat sanctuaries to be protected across Australia’s otherwise deforested landscape. 

Successive state governments have slashed the departments funding to a skeleton service and merged it into other incompatible departments such as repporting to the Department of Planning.     The fraud of the naming this grossly underfunded and mismanaged custodial authority warrants a name change to the ‘Parks NSW’, which hereafter we shall refer to them.  It functions more like a department of tourism and recreation.  Victoria calls its equivalent ‘Parks Victoria’.

It’s logo should better reflect what the Parks NSW actually does in national parks and nature reserves.  May be it should take on manicuring council parks and gardens as well.  A can of petrol and a tourism sponsor logo like North Face should replace its Superb Lyrebird and Boomerang.

RFS ‘hazard reduction’ inflicted upon Mount Solitary world heritage of a scale the same as a wildfire – all wildlife incinerated so that the ‘national park’ becomes a sterile park.

 

Rural Fire Service (starters) and National Parks unnecessarily incinerated Mount Solitary, The Jamison Valley and Cedar Valley by indiscriminate aerial incendiary in May 2018.  What carbon emissions?

 

Ironically, today is the government-sanctioned day of the unpaid wildlife arsonist.  Give generously.

Not a forest ecologist in sight.  Volunteer bush fire-fighters no longer fight bushfires with water, but with petrol.

It is no wonder why they hide their identity?

 

Further Reading:

 

[1]  Blue Mountains landmark burns for first time since 1955‘, 20180509, Peter Hannam and B.C Lewis, in Blue Mountains Gazette newspaper,^https://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au/story/5389332/mt-solitary-hazard-reduction-creates-new-smoky-vista-closes-tracks-photos/

 

[2]  ‘A comparison of fuel hazard in recently burned and long-unburned forests and woodlands‘, by Dixon KM, Cary GJ, Worboys GL, Seddon J, Gibbons G, 2018, in International Journal of Wildland Fire 27, 609-622, ^https://www.publish.csiro.au/WF/WF18037.    Note:  Associate Professor Philip Gibbons, currently an Associate Professor at The Fenner School of Environment and Society at The Australian National University where he teaches courses related to biodiversity conservation. He has published over 100 journal articles and book chapters, including three books.

 

 

[4]  ‘Enhancing Hazard Reduction in NSW Report March 2013‘, >https://www.habitatadvocate.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Enhancing-Hazard-Reduction-in-NSW-Report-March-2013.pdf,  ^https://www.emergency.nsw.gov.au/Documents/publications/independent-hazard-reduction-audit-panel-report.pdf

 

Silly Comments Received:

 

“For those who object to the burning of ‘our’ bushland for fire ‘hazard’ reduction, perhaps they could assist by adopting..the method of raking the forest floors.”

– Rod Tuck, Katoomba.

Finns beg to differ and send a message that RFS unpaid slaves are just redneck knuckle-dragging dumb arses..

SOURCE:  ^https://www.vox.com/world/2018/11/19/18102613/finland-trump-raking-woods

 

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