Did you see the 7.30 Report?

By Steve Gates

Dear NRPG members and interested,

Worth watching the “7:30 Report” and having your say…

Kind regards,

WAFA logo with WAFA in fluro green and WA Forest Alliance in black letters
Dear Steve  Last night, the story of the catastrophic impact of prescribed burning in the tingles, peats and granites was aired on ABC’s 7.30.  The story shows distressing images of the aftermath of prescribed burns in the remote, incredibly biodiverse and precious forests of the Walpole Wilderness Area.  There was a clear consensus message in the segment that a review is needed, and we need the Minister for Environment and Climate Action Reece Whitby to act on that now.  Please send an email to the Minister calling for a review. 
Email Minister Whitby
Once you’ve sent your email, please pass this on to your networks, and ask them to do the same. 
Watch the 7.30 story
DBCA’s message in the 7.30 segment is that prescribed burns are small and light and that they are critical for reducing wildfire risk.  The truth is that in order to meet its 200,000 ha annual target, the norm is for DBCA to drop hundreds of incendiaries from the air over vast areas, starting huge, extremely hot and destructive fires.  Current prescribed burning practices are not only destructive to the environment, they are also increasing the risk of wildfire by stimulating the growth of very dense forest understoreys and drying out ecosystems.  Unfortunately, the powerful evidence that the current regimes are in fact increasing fire risk in many ecosystems wasn’t included in last night’s story. But we’ll be working to ensure that evidence is discussed further.  To learn more about this, you can read this important piece in The Conversation about how burning tingles increases their flammability. 
Read The Conversation's piece on Tingles
Tingle forests are not accustomed to large, frequent fires. In their natural, old-growth, long unburnt condition they are wet and open and have very low flammability. But frequent burning is making them more flammable.  Until European colonisation, tingle forests were only subject to large fires every 80-100 plus years. But DBCA is lighting fires in the height of summer in these forests every decade or so.  The ancient trees, as well as the young seedlings and saplings, are highly vulnerable to being killed by fire. Too many fires in these ancient, vulnerable ecosystems causes their structure to change – we lose the existing tingles and their new recruits are outcompeted by trees that are more able to withstand regular burning.  The new report Icons to Ashes documents the impacts of burning on tingles, peats, red-flowering gums and quokkas in the Walpole Wilderness Area and is very worth reading and sharing. 
Find Icons to Ashes here
As explained in the 7.30 segment by Prof Stephen Hopper, it is also critical that we take action to protect peat wetlands from this burning. Peats take millenia to form. They provide habitat for unique, endangered species and store globally significant volumes of carbon. Once burnt, the impacts are irreversible.  We must develop much more sensitive, smart, sophisticated programs, informed and led by Noongar fire practitioners with deep and connected knowledge of working with Country.  Anyone watching 7.30 could see from the powerful images that the intensity and frequency of fires DBCA is lighting is having catastrophic impacts on fire sensitive species and ecosystems.  It’s time for a review of prescribed burning.  Please write to Minister Whitby today, and share this information and request with your networks. 
Email Minister Whitby
Thank you for everything you do, Jess Jess Beckerling
Campaign Director | WA Forest Alliance      
We acknowledge and pay our respects to the traditional owners of the southwest forests across the Noongar/Bibbulmun nation. This always was and always will be Aboriginal land.

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