Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A-Z Blogging Challenge: Smoke

We woke up this morning to a thick smoke haze - and yesterday was the same. It's burn off season when the Department for Parks and Wildlife burns selected areas of bush land and forest in an effort to prevent wildfires in the following year.

There is some debate as to whether burning is a good idea. There is inevitably harm to wildlife and many people find this distressing. Birds and animals will die or be injured, food supplies for the survivors will be lost and nesting sites like hollow logs will be destroyed. All of this is very sad and  I believe very few of us would deliberately set out to harm wildlife. I certainly would never endorse harming any creature. I'm a vegetarian for heaven's sake. On the other hand, though, I can see the need for burning because over many thousands of years our bushland has adapted to living with fire. Eucalypts are highly flamable due to their volatile oils so even without human intervention there have always been bushfires and many Australian plants won't germinate without exposure to smoke. As well, the Australian Aborigines, the original inhabitants of Australia, used fire to modify the landscape and provide areas of new growth for hunting. This produced what early explorers described as a park like land when they first came here. Fire is part of what makes Australia and we have to accept that.

The thing is, if we don't burn, there will be much more severe fires and these fires are far more destructive of wildlife than prescribed burns. Of course prescribed burns don't always go as planned. They can get away and spread further than intended, even turn into bushfires sometimes, and there's always the problem of smoke. For asthma sufferers like me that's more than just an irritation and we've had to have the house completely closed up for days this summer with smoke from bushfires and prescribed burns. Even so I think it's worth putting up with this to protect the community at large from wildfires. We've seen some terrible examples of this with loss of life and homes in Australia in recent years and I can't believe anyone would wish to see that again.

1 comment:

Jo said...

Anywhere that's prone to fires seems to do controlled burns. I know they used to do it a lot in North Carolina and I am guessing they do it in wooded parts of Ontario. We get fires here so preventative action must be taken. As you say, fire is a natural part of the life of wooded areas.