Tasmanian forest fires leave people feeling threatened
Well, five six year raged across Tasmania and lasted weeks and weeks. David Bowman is one of the top fire scientists in the world. So what have we learned where we will have a couple of things firstly? They seem to be conforming to a global pattern of increased fire frequency. So we're saying around the world is destructive are vents, particularly near urban areas, grace Portugal, July Canada, California. And we had a close shave this year because had does lot things strike Spain just slightly displaced to the north then high, but would have really been in the firing line. So it was an extremely stressful summer for everybody here in southern Tasmania very disruptive peoples holidays smoke pollution was horrendous, so defected people's health at affected, families, it affected small businesses. But I think it really more fundamentally affected people's outlook and their psychology. People were fried because this thing, just went on for too long. It wasn't plying, by the classical Bush bar rules of a flare up a little crisis, and then Knesset's it wasn't like that at all. It was just I long running, and frankly quite scary event. Now, thankfully, it never developed into something that killed people and not only limited amount of property was destroyed and amazingly, a lot of the high conservation value properties in the wheelchair to Jerry. We're all side Saif, but it's one of these it could've Bain and date to frame. The two thousand nineteen fires with respect to what happened in Don. Alley in two thousand thirteen the famous event where a fishing village was obliterated, people jumped into the sea decide they lives. And then, of course, the two thousand and sixteen event, which did impact Holly conservation value areas in the wilted to Jerry. So really? In the spice of a handful of years way saying, I very disturbing trend and more problematically the two thousand nineteen fives like the two thousand and six thousand dollars. And at least one of the two thousand and thirteen fires were ignited by lightning, which is unusual, a was unusual for Tasmania. So now we're beginning to see an expression of the climate, not only creating dangerous fi with, but also providing the ignitions have the forests recovered to some extent, yet, one of the extraordinary things about the southern forests of Tasmania, which rim pact is that they are actually surprisingly resilient, today's vase that were generally crawling along the ground because we were lucky with that weather conditions had things Bain draw and had things vein. Potter and windier, it could obtain a very different scenario. So the forests, although we'd lost fifteen of the twenty five toll strays, and that's because I had far skies. The forests over all the going to recover and I have been Ray sun, and it's not a disaster in any sense. But what I would be more worried about is the trend and trajectory. If you start having this event frequently then you really going to say major landscape China because he's forests not adapted to frequent burning these entities. Like once every fifty to one hundred years, and what we saw in Victoria is, we're beginning to see we had five, which recurring intervals of less than ten years. And that's when you get massive ecological changes. Yeah. Reminds me of the Barrier, Reef Great Barrier Reef. In other words, when the assault becomes too, frequent, the nature has to change doesn't recap probably that rod at it's basically a simple demographic process that your disturbing an ecological system. So frequently that it can't reproduce recover effectively, and that's when you get stike Chind, and that's when everybody is going to get very frightened because. The land Skype that Dino and love will start looking different Etel stop behaving differently. Intellectually Boone differently because of become more flammable. It's provisioning of ecological services, as we call them, water, and stabilize soils will chime so roads will stop being washed away floods will become more, intense, and so on. So when we have these major landscape changes they were going to be tremendous knock on affects in the land, Skype. And of course, it's going to be terrible full-body versity and full forest productivity. So I'm hoping and praying that we can intervene, because one of the great things about fire is that you can manage landscapes in a way to give them some resistance better than you can decide sock lines. It's very difficult to imagine controlling a cyclone or with quite, but you can control fire risk in the land Skype and so we do have strategies and tools, but that's going to require a big, shakeup for the way we think about landscape, far really getting the community. The on board because in the end, this is going to be about human at Tyson as well. Particularly in a place like Hyderabad about is notorious, because it was a capital city nearly burnt to the ground in sixty seven and the thing that really animates me as a FOSS onto living in Hobart is it's an opportunity to actually protect you community and to help, you'll society in a very tangible way. It's fantastic privilege for us on who may be interested in conceptual questions or global questions to really take those lessons and try to apply them back to your community. How can we make Haibat more resilient to the threat and the increasing threat of bourgeois, and is how that responding or the authorities responding? Well, it's they actually a marvelous journey. The Hobart city council in partnering with me, we're doing some very spoiled trials of alternative fuel management treatments to one of the surprising things certainly to the fall. Manages. I said, oh, the community is not on board with changing the landscape, such as cutting down trees or doing more robust fueled interventions. Exactly the opposite. We found people so stressed by the fire risk. They leaving in those l'aimable places and we had a comment box in air online questionnaire. And we had literally tens of pages of comments, one of the most arresting was Covent, which is saying after this year, two thousand and nine thousand nine five days away moving. We can't stay here anymore. We can't take it. And I think that we inadvertently disclosed what I would call psychosocial stress from bushfire. So there's a real opportunity to engage with the community and to try to increase people's sense of wellbeing, and they love of plice by using five management strategies. Skillful, why rather just getting a bulldozer and just smashing? The Bush down and trying to create the world's biggest vibrate. We can. Actually get into the land, Skype and stop manipulating it, and creating what we call grain fibroids, grandfa- breaks a really cool idea, because they involve manipulating the Bush with machinery, China, SOS clearing a bit of burning but more interestingly with Massoud pills because if we can create the rod habitat and the rot food source the marsupials coming and create literally bowling grains, where you have these beautiful rainfall breaks, they really attractive and that's opening up this opportunity for landscape, design, and really take inspiration from indigenous land, Skype. Some in the big vision thing for Hobart that I have is, we could imagine capability, Brown type creating a new landscape informed from indigenous fire management practices to increase the resilience of the city, which will have a manatee, it'll have diversity, it'll have fire resistance but. Will have community imprints. And that's what we really need is the sense of empowering the community, not making the community feel crushed by the threat of climate change in bushfire, but really exciting people about the opportunity to adapt and transform the landscape in a why that it's loving and beautiful rather than brutal and destructive. Well, of course, capability Brown, Liz, they wanted to Gardner at blame palace legend in his own time. Now the last time I talked to you, and this is not to be disrespectful about what you just said, but we discussed elephants. So the elephants likely to join the kangaroos at all. Well, this is actually, as we're moving into the enthrall, Passaic the period of rapid China and we're saying, complete ecological rate structuring that controversial idea that I put out about ten years ago is actually becoming a lot more months string. There was a commentary and science lost you on one of our pipe is where we've been. Looking at the possibilities of using what we call rewarding trying to put back lodge animal assemblages, whether the ninety or ninety tikey animals from other continents, like Ronald services, elephants. There's lots of diversity of maybe domestic animals, and using them in a way to process vegetation to create fire resistance. And so, for instance, in the Terai Nian, this great interest now in using guts to manage fuel risk, because, you know, as you know, in the southern Mediterranean, the Fauzan and beginning to burn into the cities. It was a terrible disaster in grace in Portugal, and France. So there's this whole idea of reimagining everything, and I think what I was trying to do with the elephant story is really blow up the way out entrench thinking, and so we'll look we've got a Faulk crisis. Let's be honest about it. We have to have fresh thinking, what are the boundaries for this thinking? What are we open the whole thing? Yup. Because in that what I would pull neural diversity. The diversity of thought that we need rather than just continually reinforcing, and reinvesting in, I command and control firefighting machine, which is what's happened in the United States. They now spending hundreds of millions of dollars on single fire events three billion dollars in one farce as in last year. And they saying whole towns burned down the town of paradox. Whole suburbs Bendon. We've got a situation where we have to have some fresh original thinking, and it may be elephants with GPS colors. I don't know. Yes. Maybe we could take the excess infants from Botswana within now being cold. Dr David Bowman is professor fire science at the university of Tasmania.