Bushfire season starting early in 2019

The problem is that "selective logging" remains quite rare, and clear felling is overwhelmingly the approach used. This has a few negative impacts:
  • forest water catchment areas no longer absorb the water which would have a) helped the soil retain moisture, and b) reduces inflow into reservoirs;
  • after clear felling, they do what are euphamistically called "regeneration burns" on the site, which add to fire risk and further reduce water catchment utility;
  • trails through forest are built solely to assist with timber removal, they're generally in the wrong places to protect communities against fire; and
  • selective logging tends to target high value (large) trees for further processing, whereas clear felled timber is overwhelmingly sent to be wood-chipped for the export pulp/paper market.
I don't disagree, at all. Clear felled forest is a dismal thing to see. Hence my support for selective logging.
 
TBH I don’t think the Arrse Australian Fire Advisory Committee has a clue of the scale of Australian forests, their remoteness or the inhospitable nature of the terrain.

Gospers Mountain where the NSW mega fire is burning is (was?) mostly virgin forest. There’s no access; the valleys are deep rifts into which there are few paths let alone tracks. In some parts there’s are blocks upwards of 50x50 km with no tracks and little possibility of building them.

Selective logging isn’t an option in much of the forests as there’s no means of getting people in let alone logs out.

The National Parks Service “manage” the forests from helicopters. I have a friend whose job involves setting controlled burns in National Parks by setting fires from a chopper. They only do it in the parks where communities are nearby.
Anyone who has flown over bits of Australia will understand the scale. Having been pax in a Caribou lulled to sleep by flying (very slowly) over unending scrub and then waking refreshed to see the same vista almost as if we had been (very slowly) flying in a circle. It used to be known as the GAFA or MAMOFA.
 
TBH I don’t think the Arrse Australian Fire Advisory Committee has a clue of the scale of Australian forests, their remoteness or the inhospitable nature of the terrain.

Gospers Mountain where the NSW mega fire is burning is (was?) mostly virgin forest. There’s no access; the valleys are deep rifts into which there are few paths let alone tracks. In some parts there’s are blocks upwards of 50x50 km with no tracks and little possibility of building them.

Selective logging isn’t an option in much of the forests as there’s no means of getting people in let alone logs out.

The National Parks Service “manage” the forests from helicopters. I have a friend whose job involves setting controlled burns in National Parks by setting fires from a chopper. They only do it in the parks where communities are nearby.
While I agree with your post, it's not the same in Victoria, where East Gippsland has pretty well established access through logging tracks. I was first there 31 years ago, on my first weekend in Australia. I met a "greenie girl", and went along to a protest at Brown Mountain near Orbost........didn't chain myself to a free, and could barely walk after a "hectic weekend".
 
Another worrying weekend on the way for Victoria.

'The heat spike in Victoria will bring severe fire danger during the weekend after a week of relative calm for the bushfires burning across the state.'

WHAT'S HAPPENING?

* Temperatures will climb to the the low 40s across most of Victoria.
* Melbourne is expected to hit the 43C mark on Friday.
* 45 degrees is forecast for some northern areas.
* Dry conditions and northerly winds sweeping through the state will bring dust storms and severe fire danger conditions in central, north and western areas of the state.
* A total fire ban has been declared for the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern country, north central, south west and central regions.
* Heat alerts have been issued.
* Authorities have urged parents to not leave children alone in cars.
* Chances of dry lightning have raised concerns for new fires starting on Friday.
* Rain will move through the state on Saturday and Sunday.
* There will be risk of heavy falls and flash flooding across southwestern and central parts of the state including Melbourne.
* Melbourne's water storage levels decreased by 0.5 billion litres this week, but water storage is at 62.6 per cent of capacity compared to 59.1 a year ago.
* 10 fires are currently active across Victoria.


 
While I agree with your post, it's not the same in Victoria, where East Gippsland has pretty well established access through logging tracks. I was first there 31 years ago, on my first weekend in Australia. I met a "greenie girl", and went along to a protest at Brown Mountain near Orbost........didn't chain myself to a free, and could barely walk after a "hectic weekend".
Are they logging in National Parks? I thought it was just State Forrest; the whole point of National Park designation is to stop exploitation.

The big fires in NSW have mostly been in National Parks. Volumes of timber extracted from state land have fallen by >80% in NSW this century.
 
ACT on the rack again. Given the amount of green space in Canberra, the potential for fires to get into the city suburbs, as it did in 2003, and potentially into the centre via the waterway parks, is pretty real.

'The ACT has declared a state of emergency as the capital faces a potentially horrific day of bushfires. Chief Minister of the ACT, Andrew Barr, announced the state of emergency today, claiming Canberra was facing the “worst bushfire threat since the devastating fires of 2003”.

'The nearby Orroral Valley Fire is more than 18,500 hectares in size, which is nearly eight per cent of the total land mass of Canberra. The fire has now been upgraded to emergency warning level as it spreads towards Apollo Rd, Boboyan Rd and Top Naas Rd. People are being warned to leave the area now, with the safest route being the Naas Road towards Tharwa and Canberra. “Conditions are now very dangerous, and the fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path. Fire crews may not be able to protect you and your property,” ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) said. “You should not expect a firefighter at your door. LEAVE NOW.”


 
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ACT on the rack again. Given the amount of green space in Canberra, the potential for fires to get into the city centre, as it did in 2003, is pretty real.

'The ACT has declared a state of emergency as the capital faces a potentially horrific day of bushfires. Chief Minister of the ACT, Andrew Barr, announced the state of emergency today, claiming Canberra was facing the “worst bushfire threat since the devastating fires of 2003”.

'The nearby Orroral Valley Fire is more than 18,500 hectares in size, which is nearly eight per cent of the total land mass of Canberra. The fire has now been upgraded to emergency warning level as it spreads towards Apollo Rd, Boboyan Rd and Top Naas Rd. People are being warned to leave the area now, with the safest route being the Naas Road towards Tharwa and Canberra. “Conditions are now very dangerous, and the fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path. Fire crews may not be able to protect you and your property,” ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) said. “You should not expect a firefighter at your door. LEAVE NOW.”


In 2003 the fires didn't get into the City Centre, but did do significant damage in the western suburbs of Duffy and Chapman. I was living in Chapman at the time.
 
In 2003 the fires didn't get into the City Centre, but did do significant damage in the western suburbs of Duffy and Chapman. I was living in Chapman at the time.
My bad, amended.
 
After more than 5 months, and with some fires having burned constantly for more than 2 months (Currawon, 74 days), the east coast at least can swap hoses for pumps as rain deluges the region. That said, there are still 26 bushfires still going in NSW alone, though that's down from 62 a week ago. Southern WA and SA may not be out of it yet as temperatures could remain high for another 6 weeks. We flew from Brisbane to Adelaide yesterday and despite the flooding, there's still a lot of bone dry country west of the ranges.

 
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Update on the situation in Victoria, where bushfires are continuing to burn.

'A severe thunderstorm warning is in place for parts of eastern Victoria as storms and heavy rainfall close in. The Bureau of Meteorology, Victoria (BOM) is warning of heavy rain and possible flash flooding for parts of East Gippsland, the Mallee, northern country and north east districts. Heavy rain is expected across Corryong, Bright, Falls Creek, Mt Hotham, Mt Buller and Omeo. According to BOM reports, there has already been 29.2mm of rain at Mt Useful, of which 23mm fell in just 25 minutes. The forecast comes after storms lashed Melbourne’s outer east and southeast on Friday, leading to flash flooding, fallen trees and cutting power to thousands of properties. Parts of Gippsland and the La Trobe Valley were also soaked by the storms from Friday afternoon.

'While rain in the northeast could help temper bushfires still burning in the region, it remains to be seen whether the drenching helps more than hinders. “I think there will be some assistance – it is still hit and miss, so not a widespread rainfall event, but it will help generally,” Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Michael Efron told AAP.'



At least the rain has had the required effect further north.

'All bush and grass fires burning across NSW are now contained for the first time this bushfire season, with locals welcoming back tourists to the region.'

 
A great effort, if the money raised goes to those currently I need of assistance.

'This weekend’s Fire Fight Australia concert is going international. The mammoth show, which will run for 10 hours on Sunday, is playing host to international and local music icons – and can now be watched by viewers all around the world.

“The aim of Fire Fight Australia is to raise much-needed funds and support for the many Australians who have been affected by the tragic fires, and this international exposure takes the effort global,” Foxtel’s executive director of television Brian Walsh said. Australia’s Foxtel network is feeding the broadcast of the historic concert to a potential audience of millions, with people in the US, UK and New Zealand now able to tune in. The concert line-up, production and broadcast deals were pulled together in a matter of weeks as the Australian bushfire emergency claimed 34 lives, more than 2600 homes and destroyed one billion animals.'


 
Spending all that time, money and effort to build a fire bunker, but not having the common DF to clear the area around their dwelling!

"A bunker has to be gas-tight." Theirs is built into a hillside about 25 metres from the house, constructed of terracotta bricks below ground level and mud bricks above, with a concrete floor and ceiling. It is impenetrable to gases and equipped with external and internal temperature gauges, a carbon dioxide meter, compressed air tank, a barometer to monitor air pressure and a valve to release air if the pressure builds.'

Mick Harewood and Sue Norman's burnt out property at Kiah
PHOTO: The forest surrounding the property has been badly scarred. (Supplied: Peter Constable)


 
A nice gesture, but surely 'out of the frying pan/fire, into the petri dish' aboard the Speculum of the Seas!

'Firefighters who have been involved in the horror bushfire season to hit Australia over summer are being rewarded with a free holiday. Royal Caribbean is still working out the finer details but has launched the offer after a small mishap involving the coronavirus.

'The Spectrum of the Seas was unable to service its Asian market after being banned from Chinese waters, following the disease outbreak in Wuhan, and the company that operates the 5,622-berth ship has turned its sights to Australia.'


 
Binny used to be a pretty straight talker; hopefully, retirement hasn't changed that trait.

'Scott Morrison wants the bushfire royal commission to report back quickly so its advice and recommendations can be acted on before the next fire season flares up. More than 30 people died and thousands of homes were destroyed in horrific blazes that burned across Australia over the past spring and summer.

'The prime minister released the inquiry's terms of reference on Thursday, showing a focus on which levels of government are responsible for preparedness, response, resilience and recovery from fires and how this can be better coordinated. The commissioners, led by former Defence Force chief Mark Binskin, are asked to keep in mind land management and hazard reduction, wildlife management and planning and development approvals.

'But Mr Morrison has also explicitly acknowledged the role of climate change, and appointed ANU climate risk and environmental law professor Andrew Macintosh as one of the commissioners.'


 
While the NSW Premier may have effectively called the 2019 season over, bushfires are still burning in western Victoria and WA. Cooler winter temperatures are still at least 6 weeks away for much of the country.

 
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Highlighting that it's not just the flames themselves that can kill, and that problems are not geographically isolated. Perhaps a recommended outcome from Binny's Royal Commission?

'Australia’s ‘black summer’ has seen bushfire smoke circle the globe, and major population centres engulfed by toxic haze for weeks at a time.

'So why does Australia still lack a national body dedicated to tackling the issue? It’s a question many have been asking, even while the Prime Minister Scott Morrison downplayed concerns, and later had air purifiers installed at Kirribilli House. Now, health experts have warned of an “urgent need” for a “national health protection strategy” to address the issue. “More nuanced health advice is needed to protect populations and individuals from exposure to bushfire smoke,” Australian National University Professor of Global Environmental Health Sotiris Vardoulakis and colleagues wrote in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday.



Major cities have been blanketed by toxic bushfire smoke. Photo: AAP

“It is important that health professionals and patients, as well as healthy individuals and those at higher risk, develop a good understanding of the available health protection measures and their effectiveness and potential trade-offs.” The researchers called for “an independent national expert committee on air pollution and health protection to be established to support environmental health decision making in Australia”. The committee should “have a clear mandate and resources to develop evidence-based, accurate, practical and consistent advice on health protection against bushfire smoke, and air pollution more broadly, across jurisdictions”.

'The 2019-20 bushfire season saw Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and other major population centres blanketed in smoke for extended periods of time.'


 
Highlighting that it's not just the flames themselves that can kill, and that problems are not geographically isolated. Perhaps a recommended outcome from Binny's Royal Commission?

'Australia’s ‘black summer’ has seen bushfire smoke circle the globe, and major population centres engulfed by toxic haze for weeks at a time.

'So why does Australia still lack a national body dedicated to tackling the issue? It’s a question many have been asking, even while the Prime Minister Scott Morrison downplayed concerns, and later had air purifiers installed at Kirribilli House. Now, health experts have warned of an “urgent need” for a “national health protection strategy” to address the issue. “More nuanced health advice is needed to protect populations and individuals from exposure to bushfire smoke,” Australian National University Professor of Global Environmental Health Sotiris Vardoulakis and colleagues wrote in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday.



Major cities have been blanketed by toxic bushfire smoke. Photo: AAP

“It is important that health professionals and patients, as well as healthy individuals and those at higher risk, develop a good understanding of the available health protection measures and their effectiveness and potential trade-offs.” The researchers called for “an independent national expert committee on air pollution and health protection to be established to support environmental health decision making in Australia”. The committee should “have a clear mandate and resources to develop evidence-based, accurate, practical and consistent advice on health protection against bushfire smoke, and air pollution more broadly, across jurisdictions”.

'The 2019-20 bushfire season saw Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and other major population centres blanketed in smoke for extended periods of time.'


All we have to do is stop mining coal. Apparently. Then - no more bush fires. Ever.
 
All we have to do is stop mining coal. Apparently. Then - no more bush fires. Ever.
While much of the attached is something of an anti-coal polemic, there are some otherwise interesting observations.

'The fires did not come as a surprise to the Liberal/National party government – more frequent and intense fires were predicted in an official report in 2008. The National Disaster Risk Framework warned that “with the driver of a changing climate there is growing potential for some natural hazards to occur at unimagined scales, in unprecedented combinations and in unexpected locations”.

'No less than 23 former fire chiefs and emergency leaders attempted to warn the government for months in 2019 that more resources were urgently needed to tackle bushfires.*

'What did the government do?

'Some would say, “nothing”. But actually, that is not true. On top of ignoring the warnings from their own fire experts, government officials spent most of their time actively opposing any moves to limit climate damage and prevent bushfires.'



* Former fire chiefs 'tried to warn PM ' to bring in more water-bombers ahead of bushfire season
 
While much of the attached is something of an anti-coal polemic, there are some otherwise interesting observations.

'The fires did not come as a surprise to the Liberal/National party government – more frequent and intense fires were predicted in an official report in 2008. The National Disaster Risk Framework warned that “with the driver of a changing climate there is growing potential for some natural hazards to occur at unimagined scales, in unprecedented combinations and in unexpected locations”.

'No less than 23 former fire chiefs and emergency leaders attempted to warn the government for months in 2019 that more resources were urgently needed to tackle bushfires.*

'What did the government do?

'Some would say, “nothing”. But actually, that is not true. On top of ignoring the warnings from their own fire experts, government officials spent most of their time actively opposing any moves to limit climate damage and prevent bushfires.'



* Former fire chiefs 'tried to warn PM ' to bring in more water-bombers ahead of bushfire season
Ref your link to the ABC article, those former fire chiefs might have been better advised to lobby state/territory premiers.
 
Ref your link to the ABC article, those former fire chiefs might have been better advised to lobby state/territory premiers.
As it's largely a State issue, I'd agree, but they appeared to believe, incorrectly, that they would have more traction at the Federal level. WRT water bombers, a national pool of resources rather than State-owned rice bowls has to be more efficient and effective. And although its 20/20 hindsight, if you link that to the air pollution issue at 176, there is certainly a national dimension to it.
 
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