. Thickets that ‘…the natives are in the habit of burning … at intervals of three years’ to drive out Tammar and Banded Hare Wallaby. John Gilbert, near Northam 1831 [Thanks to Dr. Ian Abbott] SOME SNIPPETS OF BUSHFIRE HISTORY … A Visiting English Naturalist... David Ward 2005
An Early Explorer... “the periodical extensive bush fires which, by destroying every two to three years the dead leaves, plants, sticks, fallen timber etc. prevent most effectually the accumulation of any decayed vegetable deposit…” Lt. Henry Bunbury, 1837 [Thanks to Dr. Sylvia Hallam] David Ward 2005
An Early Bushman & Magistrate... “ Leave the forest unburnt for a few years, allow the shrubs to flourish... dead leaves… to accumulate and the destruction of the aged Jarrah, the many young plants and seeds will be completed. Allow the fires as a rule to take their course – if possible every 2 or 3 years. ” Joseph Strelley Harris, 1882 David Ward 2005
You see, the natives when they were in the country they used to burn the country every three or four years…’. Frank Thompson, talking of the south coast, before First World War [Thanks to Dr. Ian Abbott, Perth] An Early Group Settler on the South Coast... David Ward 2005
Two Old Foresters... “It should be remembered that there was virtually no forest area at that time which carried more than 5 years’ leaf litter and the greater part varied from 1 to 3 years...” Former Conservators of Forests Roy Wallace & Alan Harris, describing the jarrah forest before 1920 David Ward 2005
“… it is not unreasonable to assume that the forest was completely burnt through every 2-4 years. Even as late as 1925... in unmanaged virgin forest east of Jarrahdale... fires were alight in December and continued to burn until the following March.” Former Conservator of Forests President of the Royal Society of WA Roy Wallace 1966 Former Conservator of Forests… David Ward 2005
Mosaic Hierarchy Mosaics form a nested hierarchy. Any patch in a meso-mosaic may be, in itself, a micro-mosaic. Any meso-mosaic may be a patch in a macro- mosiac. This hierarchy can continue down the scale to the molecular level. It can continue up the scale to the Australia wide level.
About fire refuges... Some patches in a mosaic may have different fire return periods & ignition rules. A refuge patch may be moist, shady, or protected by a physical barrier, such as rocks. Even if carrying enough fuel to carry a fire, a refuge patch may not always ignite from fire in an adjacent patch. To ignite, it may need the radiant heat, or embers, from an intense fire in nearby heavy fuel.
Serious Scientist - Scenario C Serious Scientist sees ‘plant juvenile period’ as the key to ‘scientific fire management’. Supposedly, doubling (or trebling etc.) this will ensure a good seedbank. The juvenile period for shrubs of the upland jarrah forest is 3-4 years (funny that!) Therefore Serious Scientist says that 6-8 years is the minimal bushfire interval, with some patches not burnt for forty years or more. Serious Scientist also believes that irregular burning will increase ‘biodiversity’...
THOUSANDS OF NATIVE ANIMALS PERISH BIG FIRE KILLS OLD GROWTH TREES SCIENTIST BLAMES GLOBAL WARMING ROTTING CORPSES POLLUTE PERTH’S WATER SUPPLY PREMIER AGREES TO GREENS’ DEMAND FOR AN ENQUIRY
Serious Scientist Outcomes Irregular burning leads to general upward creep of fuel loads. Safe burning at 6-8 years becomes impossible. Similar eventual outcome to Poor Old Public Servant & Friends of the Forest.
Year 1 Years 2 on... Inevitable outcome... David Ward 2005 Serious Scientist Fire Cycle
A little fire is quickly trodden out, Which, being suffered, rivers cannot quench. William Shakespeare, Henry VI, 1592. THOSE WHO HAVE ACTUALLY PUT THE WET STUFF ON THE RED STUFF WILL AGREE... THE END - ALMOST...