Australia: Logged forests more vulnerable to wildfires
A wildfire is currently raging in Western Australia, some 170 miles (275 km) north of the state capital, Perth. Though the area is mostly farmland and not densely populated, Australian Fire Emergency Services have urged residents to leave the area with ‘survival kits’ in tow.
According to a Press Association report on the situation in Western Australia, wildfires are a common threat during hot Australian summers and this summer is particularly blazing, with Tuesday’s temperature predicted to hit 41 C (106 F).
Last year, 173 people were killed and more than 2,000 homes destroyed in one day as hundreds of fires burned across southeastern Australia.
In related news, the Australian National University recently released findings concerning the effects of logging on Australia’s wet forests in terms of how susceptible the forests are to fires. The research suggests that logging makes rainforests nearly four times more prone to fire.
‘Clear felling of moist forests in southern Australia has produced dense stands of regrowth saplings, thereby creating more available fuel than if the forest was not clearfelled. Furthermore, debris from logging can also sustain fires longer than fuels in uncut forest, while roads required for logging increase the number of ignition points for wildfires and lightning strikes are more likely in logged areas due to logging slash.’
–Professor David Lindenmayer, Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU
These findings challenge Australia’s current fire protection practices and stress that the importance of forest and fire management will increase in times of ‘rapid climate change’.
by Graham Land