Canberra, Australia — Parliament House played host to a national forumpresented by the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) a federallyfunded partnership between 30 organisations including fire and land managementagencies, universities, Australian Federal Government agencies and New Zealandfire and forest agencies.
The forum was opened by CEO of the Bushfire CRC Kevin OLoughlin, theSpecial Minister of State Gary Nairn and Minister for Fisheries, Forestry andConservation Eric Abetz.
Mr. OLoughlin told the delegation of 100 or more that he hoped researchcollected by the CRC would continue to help those at the forefront of bushfiremanagement in Australia and abroad.
From here on in its a matter of delivering the results of research in ausable form to those tasked with managing the landscape and fire when, not if,it comes We have the opportunity, today, to learn more about the complexitiesof bushfire management, he said.
Special Minister of State Gary Nairn raised the question: are big firesinevitable? The focus of the forum.
Of course they are, he said.
In a country such as Australia we will always have fires, there will alwaysbe lightning strikes that start fires, there will always be those maniacs in ourcommunity that deliberately start fires. So there is no question that we willalways have fires, but whether we will always have big fires is what today isall about.
Mr. Nairn said that there are many factors that could possibly contribute tothese megafires, but said fuel loads present in the Australian bush wasthe big issue.
Issues around drought, climate change – all of those things are very heavilyinvolved in whether fires occur and to some extent where they occur and also tosome extent the size ultimately the big fires will only come about when youhave something to burn.
Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation Eric Abetz echoed similarsentiments. He said the increase in the size and frequency of national parks andconservation areas meant that there were many areas of bush that are sufferingfrom a lack of maintenance.
The forests have been neglected with minimal to no management, he said.
Fuel loads are not monitored or managed – all escalating the fire risks. Ifour forests and communities are to survive this minimal management of ourconservation reserves then we need to relearn our fire prevention andsuppression strategies. The Bushfire CRC has a leading role to play in this area.
Mr. Abetz praised the Bushfire CRC for their commitment and research.
Im pleased to see that the Bushfire CRC is addressing some of theseconcerns Through research, I hope we will become more aware of fire behaviourand be better placed to managing fire risk and develop fire control strategiesto conserve our forests for all uses – recreation, harvesting or conservation -rather than seeing them destroyed by fire.