Australia — TASMANIAN farmers are lobbying the state government to relax rules on fuel reduction burning.
Southern Tasmanian farmer Lindsay White strongly believes more fuel reduction burns would have reduced the intensity and spread of January’s bushfires.
He has formed a group of farmers lobbying for the government to adopt a target of reducing the fuel load to 10 tonnes a hectare.
“If we get that we can manage a major bushfire,” Mr White said.
“The only reason we get these major bushfires is because we’ve got too much fuel on the ground.”
He said there was too much red and green tape and farmers were fearful of being sued.
Mr White yesterday attended a forum of key industry and government stakeholders in Hobart to discuss ways to minimise the bushfire risk on public and private land.
Emergency Services Minister David O’Byrne convened the meeting with Tasmanian fire agencies, the State Fire Management Council, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association and the wine industry.
Fuel ecologist David Bowman, who was also at the meeting, warned farmers to be careful what they wished for.
“Are they willing to take the responsibility if those fires become out of control, are they willing to take the responsibility of catastrophic failure with smoke which can injure people and destroy crops of wine. These are big risks,” Professor Bowman said.
Professor Bowman welcomed the government’s willingness to start a dialogue about the complex problem.
“This is really the Mount Everest of land management and it’s not going to be solved in one year or three years. This is a major social challenge for Tasmania.”
He said the management of a large burnoff at Mount Direction in the state’s south was a good example of a strategic approach but said it was costly.