Sydney, New South Wales, Australia — The state’s finest national parks are going up in flames because hazard reduction has been cut by more than half in the past three years, the State Opposition said yesterday.
Shadow environment minister and MP for The Hills, Michael Richardson, said if the Government had properly funded bushfire management procedures it would have saved vast areas of the pristine parks, their flora and fauna.
“It’s no coincidence we currently have 11 fires burning in national parks,” Mr Richardson said.
“Many of the national parks now ablaze, such as Blue Mountains, Morton, Mount Kaputar, and Oxley Wild Rivers in New England have had large drop-offs in hazard reduction burning since 2004.”
He said the total area of prescribed burns carried out in national parks and reserves during the last year was less than half the area burnt in 2003-04.
“There seems to be a mind-set within the National Parks and Wildlife Service against prescribed burns even though it’s the way the Aborigines managed the bush for tens of thousands of years before white man came,” he said.
The Government needed to carry out burning for ecological as well as hazard reduction purposes, he said.
“The Government’s fire suppression practices allow fuel to build up, all too often leading to devastating wildfires that destroy biodiversity as well as property,” he said.
Mr Richardson said a Coalition government would work with the CSIRO to develop prescribed ecological burning guides for every forest type in NSW.
“Some areas will need burning more frequently, some less frequently, but the overall result will be to improve biodiversity and reduce the threat to properties surrounding national parks.”
A spokesman for the NSW Rural Fire Service said this year’s wet weather had resulted in less hazard reduction than in previous years.
“You just can’t walk in and burn off,” he said. “It is a specialised, scientific procedure.
“It can’t be done when it’s too wet or too dry or when it’s too hot or too cold or too windy.”