20 January 2020
Thankfully fire conditions eased over the last few days allowing further containment of fires and providing respite to emergency workers and volunteers. But the rain was not enough to extinguish all the fires and dry conditions are set to return with the fire season not over.
It has been heartening to see the country unite in a call for decisive action to cut our greenhouse gas emissions and for Australia to lead in global negotiations after seeing firsthand the devastation that climate change can bring. But unfortunately some leaders and vested interests are now trying to misinform the community in an attempt to protect the intense dirty industries that fuel climate change.
The ferocity of the fires this season was not caused by any failure to conduct hazard reduction operations. Last financial year, hazard reduction burns were carried out on almost 200,000 hectares of land across the state – mostly in national parks. But hotter drier conditions narrowed the window for conducting these operations, it is not possible to burn some kinds of forests, and the wildfires raged through open grass and farmland not just forests. I encourage you to read the fact sheet from the Nature Conservation Council of NSW to help you respond to any misinformation on hazard reduction burns HERE.
The impact the fires have had – and will continue to have – on our biodiversity is catastrophic. Over a billion animals and hundreds of billions of insects were killed and the survival of remaining fauna is under threat from lack of food and water and exposure to predators. Experts say some species have likely become extinct with others close; we will not know the true extent of the damage for a while. While fire-adapted plants may recover, some forests burned this season have not adapted to this climate and won’t regrow. Peter Hannam’s Sydney Morning Herald report reveals frightening statistics of biodiversity loss including a third of the state’s national park estate, over a third of the state’s rainforests and more than half the heathlands. I encourage you to read the article HERE
Biodiversity is vital to human life, and supports clean air and water, pollination and productive land. I have long been concerned that biodiversity protections are inadequate and now with so much lost from the fires, it is now essential to our future that we strengthen these protections. I am particularly worried that intensive logging is continuing in native forests that provide native habitat for many threatened species that have been affected by the fires, including the koala.
The Nature Conservation Council has a petition calling for an immediate moratorium on logging in public native forests until the impact of the fires on species and habitat has been determined, with support for workers in logging industries provided. See HERE.
We must learn from these fires that our natural environment which is so vital to our future is fragile and needs strong protections.