Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Fire of Holiday Places

The recent fires on the Victorian coast burnt much wildlife. It demonstrates again that humans always think it won't happen to them, again.

The pictures tell the story of the fire coming into the yards of houses and the fire increasing in strength height and ferocity as the house is burnt. The trees stand stalwart, and are also burnt. But were they alone there without houses, which are after all just fire fuel, the fire would not have been as intense. Though they will probably now be cut down because it will be proclaimed, they are dead

The way the houses were set out seems to be in a line along the contour of the hill, and the houses that were not touched mostly away, out of that line, placed further back or just a bit more out of the way. The flames would have lapped each house, where these were built close together, or the wind sent the flames along the ground to the next house in line, where they would have increase in height and burnt many koalas.

Sadly it's never recorded that the worst fire hazard are houses. They are full of, and quite often built from combustible material. It can only be a subject of wonder what was lying round the houses that should have been cleaned up before summer but not being done so only added to the ease of travelling the line the fire took.

Only time will tell if the local government will make it a requirement to rebuild houses along that shoreline with steel frames and fire retardant cladding or if they will be happy not to do so again. If the latter, probably allowing another holiday resort fire to come through and burn almost every house as it did 32 years ago.

Wildlife in areas where house are built close together have very little reasonable chance of survival. A fire becomes particularly powerful where houses are close together.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Knowing Life Isn't Fair Doesn't Help...

There was a story today, of what was apparently an American Bulldog, who chased a wombat into a burrow and was trapped and people spent tens of thousands of dollars and a great deal of time to dig him/her out. I assume there was some truth in this?

The action sounds commendable, but it's very much looked at in a lopsided way. The wombat, who is indigenous to this country, and when in large numbers kept the forest floor excavated and aerated in such a way as to speed the decomposition of leaf and bark litter and reduced forest fires by so doing, was chased by a pampered pet. Not because it was in any way doing anything wrong, but was just there.

The dog went in where it had no place being. A child being chased by an adult should be able to get to their home and once through the front door be safe? Maybe not, if this story is anything to go by.

The dog gets rescued, dug out of the burrow, but in the process the wombats home is virtually destroyed. How can that be right? Why are we humans like this?

The yacht that has it's keel ripped off when it hits a whale has all the attention paid to the multi-million dollar yacht, replaceable, and the crew. No one considers the whale, whose only place of residence, the sea. Which is being used as a sports ground by a creature that has all the areas of the planet to play in? How badly was it hurt, and were the sharks already on the blood trail, even before the crew was rescued?

Our priorities are definitely skew whiff.

I made much the same mistake many years ago, and I feel shame about it still. Having gone to visit an old woman, we allowed our two Kelpies out of the car and they explored the woman's yard. We had no idea they had found, and were tormenting a snake till one of them was bitten and yelped. I called them off.

Before the dog fell over and we knew she was in trouble. The old woman asked me to kill the snake. I asked what reason there was for this, because the snake would go away on its own and it was the dogs who were the trouble makers. They attacked the snake defending itself against two adversaries, not the other way round. But she was adamant and I felt sorry for her irrational fear and to my shame killed the snake.

We raced the dog to the vet and the all up costs were over $1,000.oo to save her life. Yet she and her mate were the tormentors turned attackers and what they got they deserved. But I killed the snake? I must have been too young or still too stupid to do something like that. The dogs are not a snakes food item, because it wasn't a constrictor and they were at fault anyway.

Lessons to be learned here. But we see this sort of thing every day. The victim getting the blame for being hurt.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Bare Nosed Wombats Not Protected All Over Victoria........

It beggars belief, but the bare nosed wombats, before white settlement called the "common" wombats are no longer such or protected all over Victoria. Endless entreaties to do so and the reasons they should be protected are not endorsed or possibly understood by the Victoria Government or their environmental arm.

So many parishes where there is no protection for wombats

So letters to the DELWP have not produced any reason why the protection of the bare nosed wombats in some parishes is in force, but not in others? It appears a very hodge podge legislation, and no explanation forthcoming?

There is a paper: REVIEW: Is the loss of Australian digging mammals contributing to a deterioration in ecosystem function? Mammal Review ISSN 0305-1838 That clearly shows how important digging mammals and by their actions, probably reptiles and insects, are to the continued fertility level as it is, and increase if we allow enough of these little diggers to survive.

You don't need to be a university graduate to know that wombats of all kinds and digging animals have been part of the shaping of our landscape. The landscape most of us enjoy when we leave the suburbs and cities and attempt to salve our souls and rescue our sanity. But it seems to be forgotten that they have a role to play still.

Farming of every kind needs so much expensive input, that farmers are screaming about lower profits yields and production of every kind. The consumer is supposed to pay for these increases in costs that could be avoided. Hard pans are a result of shallow ploughing and the Yeoman deep ripping is no substitute for the wombat and other digging and earth disturbing animals that come at little if any real cost.

It's well known that many property owners kill wombats because they really can't see beyond the hole in the ground, to all the benefits it bestows to their little fiefdoms and our world.

From the paper above:

Digging mammals therefore create a range of disturbances in the form of nose pokes, scratchings, shallow to deep digs, long bulldozing tracts and complex subterranean burrows (Eldridge & Mensinga 2007). They manipulate the substrate and create a variety of disturbances that affect resource availability, contributing to land, soil and water quality (Martin 2003). In this review, we investigate how the loss of Australian
[end quote]

It's beyond the grasp of the Victorian government to see the value of bare nosed wombats, but one hopes at sometime in the future the penny will drop. Yeah, that's likely to happen.

During the time that Gavin Jennings had control of the environment and Climate Change portfolio, there was to be a review of the status of the Bare Nosed Wombat [aka the Common Wombat]. But it was never implemented. One wonders why this was? It was such an excellent opportunity to highlight the importance of these little diggers and others that helped to spread soil over leaf and bark litter in the forest and reduce the occasion and intensity of forest fires.

But there was an overstated consideration for farmers and landholders upset when a couple of wombats came onto their property. The damage that wombats were supposed to have caused was also overstated and laced with hyperbole.

So we are currently in this situation and one could assume that there will not be a review in the near future. No point in mentioning that the non lethal methods of excluding any animal is supposed to be the first considered. It's just too easy to reach for a firearm.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ban Fuel Reduction Burns

Be Constructive Rather Than Destructive

Fuel reduction burn philosophy is flawed in so many ways that it's impossible to name them all.

This method of attempting fire control destroys the values that make Australia what it is and for what it's known. One of these is the natural landscape, beauty and the way it has been crafted by all the elements of the natural world. Fire being one of these.

Fire, as has been pointed out in just about every paper ever written about its danger, is a part of Australia just like the wildlife which we love, or most of us love and which is part of our heritage and identity. It's not rational to expect to live without fire in Australia, and it's irrational to believe that by lighting fires we are in some way protecting ourselves from them. It's just plain crazy to think that lighting fires in the forest, far from population centres will give us either, protection or safety, from fires in the areas where we live.

So we have to think about the area where we actually live and adjacent to it if we want to be destroyers or creators. The former is negativity at it's worse and that's fuel reduction burning. Torch everything that will burn. There is no guarantee if, or even when a fire might get close to a population centre or an individual dwelling. We would have to light the fire and burn everything each spring and hope after the fuel reduction or elimination fire, that growth through the rest of spring and summer will be limited. That during early summer, grass will not go brown and tinder dry, or the trees drop more leaves and bark and nothing that could be described as fire fuel will be blown in by the wind. That's not rational or clever.

To understand and respect fire is good. But people have an irrational fear of fire, because they are indoctrinated by society that the government will look after and keep them safe and that's never going to happen. This foolishness, and dependence on it that government loves. Keeps the population tractable and stops individuals from going out and doing their own thing, looking after themselves to some degree.

To put up a fire break of fire retardant plants and instead of using water to put out fire is rational and constructive. Then using the water to keep a verge green to prevent fire from entering certain areas is sensible. If the money used to put out fires and do fuel reduction burning should be spent, because government or other agencies which to encourage employment. Then it can be deployed on employment for people to keep the fire verges and buffers both green and clear of debris that might allow fires to take hold during the summer months. Though in actuality this should be left to each individual householder where they are capable and a percentage of the water used billed to the government or reimbursed by the government.

Green fire breaks all year round are the way to ensure fires never reach the population centres or individual properties of residents. There are tree species of various kinds that are well adapted to the protection of properties from fires and few have been utilised for this purpose. Tagasaste is one, but many tree species that can be made into fire retardant hedgerows exist.

Tagasaste has many benefits as well as the attribute of protecting against fire. Some of these are nitrogen fixing, hard coated seed that cracks open ready to take advantage of moisture even after their parents are destroyed by it. Fodder for stock if pruned or cut back. etc., etc.. Tagasaste is just one of the many trees that are natures buffer against fire.

Others can be formed to be a more effective fire retardant. Hedgerows of coppiced oaks to ensure they grow only to a medium height and remain sappy, filled with moisture to retard fire. They will probably be killed by what they a protecting property and people from should a very hot fire attack them, but they can be replanted. Experimentation would enhance the result.

More About Fire Retardant Hedgerows

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Persecution of a Different Species.......

Something that has always been a worry, is how some plants and animals brought to Australia from other countries are called exotics and as they thrive and grow in number, are then labelled pests. These plants and animals from countries far away in most cases, and amongst these animals are humans that come from other lands. Some that came or were brought here, prospered, thrived and multiplied, rather too well in some cases, are excluded from being naturalised by the term exotic, feral or pest. These human immigrants and their descendants are the ones pointing the finger at the descendants of plants their parents brought with them, and/or spread throughout the land; calling them pests?

This policy of removing these naturalised Australians, stems from some misguided idea that natives are the way to go and that introduced people can live with the first nation people, or rather the other way round. But these plants/animals designated as nuisance, cannot. Even though without the wheat, corn, cattle, sheep etc., Australia could not support the population it now contains nor would it earn enough money to sustain it. The aforementioned are not the ones that are branded as pests or feral or needing eradication. But the natives were removed, killed, cut down and burnt, so the “desirable” exotics would thrive.

The selective choice of the species which are labelled pests or for that matter feral is distinctive. Wheat is not a feral or pest or even considered as anything but beneficial. Yet because people haven't been able to bend their mind round finding a use for white poplar [Populus alba] it's considered to be undesirable and now one of the pest species? The same is applied to certain animals. The fox is a pest and yet ovine and bovine species are not. The fox assists in cleaning up much that might spread disease to the ovine and bovine species?

In the case of the East Gippsland Shire Council [EGSC] white poplar is seen, as it can be, invasive. That's not in evidence where this species of tree is the framework of a Grey Headed Flying Fox maternity roost. But it's used as an example because it is elsewhere. Though it should not be eradicated, because its usefulness to a native Australian in this case makes it important, the [EGSC] see it as something they must destroy.

However, there is a hidden agenda. It's the native protected and in danger of extinction, flying fox species that uses the tree which the EGSC sees as a pest and is trying move on. The ploy is to use the excuse of removing something which in some areas is invasive. So remove the poplar which is the framework for the flying fox roost and you move the flying foxes. If it was suggested that the flying foxes were the problem, then it would be halted very quickly, there would be no footing for removal. Remove this invasive exotic tree, is accepted [Tongue in cheek] It's just unfortunate that a Grey Headed Flying Fox maternity roost hangs in it's welcoming branches.

The shire doesn't care where the flying foxes move to. Because if they move to a place where they really are going to be seen as a problem. The shire will suggest they are justified in moving them, on that they are a problem pretext. Actually moving the flying foxes which is what's supposed to happen by removing the poplars. Because they are unable to move them just now, due to their protection by law and because they are doing no harm, they use the poplar removal ruse.

If the flying foxes move right out of the area, well then, that's what the shire want. So either way, it's a win win situation for the shire. A pogrom of sorts that some people suffered in the past, now used on another species, the flying foxes. It succeeded with some dictators applying it to people. People tend to forget what persecution is all about, and how it's carried out.

The problem is not a pest tree, it's the native animal that some people consider a pest. It's a local government experiment to see if it is possible to persecute a minority, by using a subterfuge that will appeal even to people who want something particular. Have them work against what they want. People want native plants and yet don't mind tormenting and threatening and persecuting native animals to do it? Can that be real?

Allowing the apathy of the majority to just stand by and watch. Not realising what they are doing or allowing. Tacitly giving power to and playing into the hands of those who will eventually use it against them.

Friday, June 12, 2015

If This is True

If this is true, it will be the first step and develop into an exhilarating ride for mankind. Firstly to put a foundation under this dream, and then to really get teeth into discovering how we are going to extract ourselves from the use of fossil fuels. How to harvest the wind, sun and build on renewable recyclable energy and share the knowledge and technology world wide.

This will create employment, and allow people to bend their mind in the path of working with the natural world, working with what we have which we won't damage or destroy. It's taken too long, but now there is commitment..............

Forget space; this is the real challenge to which the human mind and will should first be directed. To save the natural world and use our renewable resources effectively and wisely.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Iniquities of Fuel Reduction Burns

We are all aware how destructive fuel reduction burns are in our forests. Fuel reduction burns are what the government uses to try to confuse the general public into believing it's actually doing something and that this will slow down and even prevent fires. Cynically omitting that the fires which burn property and towns and house on farmland are from grass fires. Grass that has been imported into Australia to feed the domestic livestock that has also been imported. Native grasses burn less easily.

Here is an article from Bob McDonald that sheds some more light on the fuel reduction burn process, and how it has been misused:

Fuel reduction burns, if they are carried out anywhere, should be carried out around the population centres, where they will do the most good. But that's not possible because those areas are used for agriculture and usually grow imported grasses and crops. Unfortunately this is also the path the fires use to get into the towns and city outskirts.

Here also can be found some information on fuel reduction burning:

Friday, January 2, 2015

Can this be real?

The apiarists of Tasmania again made it clear they wanted the logging industry to be reinstated to its former destructive level because it maintains the roads so they can get into the areas where they are able to harvest leatherwood and manuka honey in the forest. Is this for real? The first time this was mooted was in April http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/honey-producers-want-forestry-tasmania-on-road-to-financial-health/story-fnj4f7k1-1226884353072 which I thought was mistimed, as April 1 had been and gone.

It has been said to me that Tasmania is about 2 or 3 decades behind the mainland, a kind of backwardness one associates with a lack of knowledge. This is obvious because all over the mainland beekeepers are screaming against the trees being logged, the destruction and the general obtuseness of government concerning the issue of conservation of forested areas that still exist.

When working bees back in the 60's, beekeepers were considered as the guardians of the forest. The Tasmanian beekeepers obviously don't see themselves in this way? Their vision is somewhat myopic if they haven't seen what has been happening on the mainland with the logging in operation here. More than likely, few beekeepers on the mainland would want roads into forest maintained at the cost that is extracted from the honey industry and the environment to maintain these roads.

It would be better for everyone if all logging as it's practised today, is stopped, and beekeepers have to put money into better trucks to transport their hives into the areas from which they wish to harvest the nectar produced by the still in situ trees. Trees and understorey, that if left untouched would still be producing honey for future beekeepers.