Arson fires in Australia

J Bade johnb at
Sun Jan 6 03:36:54 EST 2002

Much of the news about how the fires have started is based upon the
opinions of journalists.
It's a time of finger pointing and the institutions responsible for
the bush and protecting the houses are looking to shift public
attention to 'anyone' else.
The difference between saying 'some' or 'most' or 'many' fires are the
result of copy-cat arsonists is speculation.
Farmers would like to be able to burn-off, plow and use wood specific
spray (rather than just grass glycophotates sprays) to create buffer
zones...but the world has moved urban sprawl.

One thing is for sure that before aborigines came with their firestick
culture Australia was a land of coniferous not eucalyptus trees.

On 2 Jan 2002 09:55:47 -0800, dwheeler at (Daniel B. Wheeler)

Joseph Zorzin <redoak at> wrote in message
news:<3C331581.E632BEF5 at>...
> "Daniel B. Wheeler" wrote:
> > From The Oregonian, Dec. 31, 2001, p A7
> >
> > Arsonists set more brush ablaze as fires rage near Sidney, Australia
> >
> > By EMMA TINKLER, The Associated Press
> Have people been caught? What's likely to happen to those getting caught?
> Do Australian ecologists practice preventive burning of the brush?
> Wasn't fire a natural occurrence for millennia until the Europeans showed up?
Yes and no. Many fires were apparently set by aborigines.
> What are the ecological effects of burning there, other than torching homes?
Similar to the Native American fires set in the PNW, I think. Mostly
it burned brush and small-diameter woody debris, as well as
fire-proofing an area for perhaps 1-3 years.
> Did the aborigines set fires for good reasons back in the good old days before
> the whites showed up and stole their country?
I remember seeing a program on Nature detailing the fires being
started for food (snakes and other crispy critters) as well as
preparing the soil for wild yams, which the aborigines produced as an
agroforestry crop: growing under eucalypts in semi-shaded areas.

But I don't have all the answers. Sorry.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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