Friday, April 19, 2024

Protestors gather to save the tingles

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About 150 people gathered at Nornalup on March 23 to protest about the State Government’s plan to burn 80ha of nearby mostly-unlogged tingle forest.

Nornalup community members are angry about the planned burn which environmentalists say is counter-productive to fire mitigation and destructive to the environment.

It will harm the beauty and visual amenity of the area.

Also Nornalup residents say the practice of prescribed broad-scale burning is counter-productive to the local tourist industry. The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions is set to burn the area in question, Douglas Hill, near the Valley of Giants, this autumn.

The plan for burning the so-called FRK 099 assesses the risk as ‘very high’ and the complexity as ‘high’.

As legislation absolves DBCA from legal responsibility for damage, neighbouring property owners have been advised to update their home insurance policies.

But environmentalists say no insurance coverage can restore the long-unburnt country adjacent to the burn should the fire escape.

At the protest on March 23, Denmark and Walpole residents supported Nornalup residents in calling for this burn to be stopped.

Tingle forests are found no-where else in the world and are home to many threatened species, including mainland quokkas, western ring-tailed possums, mardo, kenngoor, rakali and quenda.

The tingle trees, some of which are hundreds of years old, cannot tolerate repeated burning as fire gets into their bases, causing collapse of the old giants.

This occurred just last December in a prescribed burn nearby.

The Denmark Environment Centre and Fire and Biodiversity WA have called for an independent review of broad-scale prescribed burning practices for several years.

They say the prescribed burning is causing degradation and decline of forests and other ecosystems in national parks and conservation reserves.

These fires are too big, hot and frequent.

DEC and FaBWA, along with the WA Forest Alliance, are calling on the State Government to bring about change to the way these burns are planned and conducted.

There are alternatives to the current practices, such as rapid detection and suppression, and increased resourcing of bushfire mitigation strategies around homes and towns.

Observations and research show that burning tingle forest increases flammability as it stimulates growth of dense understoreys.

Curtin University Adjunct Associate Professor Philip Zylstra, a fire behaviour scientist, said fire promoted a ‘pulse’ of dense understorey regrowth which drove much more severe fire behaviour.

DBCA records demonstrated this.

“Red tingle trees are vulnerable to fire, and the last remaining giants are being systematically hollowed out and felled by prescribed burns,” he said.

Denmark Bulletin 4 April 2024

This article appeared in the Denmark Bulletin, 4 April 2024.

This article relates to the ongoing discussion on Australian Rural & Regional NewsOpen for Debate – Bushfires, Logging, Burns & Forest Management

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