Alien Environment in Australia Fuels Firestorms

The catastrophic fires that have ravaged Australia have a green background. A recent report from friends who suffered terrible losses of buildings, fences, pasture and cattle in the Coonabarabran fire commenced with the ominous and oft-repeated message: "a raging fire came out of the National Park straight for us". There is only one way to limit fire damage - reduce the fuel available. Fuel load can be reduced in three ways - by grazing animals, by planned small "cool" fires, or by mechanical reduction with slashers, mulchers or dozers. Australia's grassland landscape was created and managed by generations of Aborigines who were masters at using man's most useful tool - fire. Every explorer from Abel Tasman (1642) and Captain Cook (1770) onwards noted the smoke in the sky and the burnt trees whenever they landed. This burning created the open grassland landscapes that dominated pre-European Australia. Aborigines lit fires continually, so their small patchwork fires caused no permanent...(Read Full Post)