Nat parks under fire after a fortnight of blazes

Eric Barker, 11/10/2021

NATIONAL parks’ management of fire has become a hot topic again this spring, with blazes starting across some parts of east coast.

With devastating bushfires in the past two years wiping out hundreds of hectares of land, producers have often criticised governments for leaving high fuel loads in parks and ultimately leaving them with the burden of keeping fires out of private land.

Queensland’s Parks and Wildlife service is the latest to come under fire from landholders after more than a fortnight of blazes in its Bulburin National Park. The Central Qld fire was allegedly started by a producer on a grader, putting in fire breaks.

Adam Coffey

Another neighbouring landholder, Adam Coffey from Boreelum Station near Miriam Vale, has spent the past fortnight mopping up the fires and backburning – with some favourable conditions providing a short break in the middle.

Mr Coffey said a high fuel load in the park had accelerated the blaze, which made him concerned about his own pastures.

“We’ve lost about 500 hectares and at the moment we are trying to look after our core grazing country,” he said.

“This is nothing new to us, we’ve been here for more five years now, and in all but one of those years we’ve been threatened by fire in the park.”

Mr Coffey said it was an inconvenient time to be fighting fires, with this year’s calving starting at the same time.

“The hours I’ve spent fighting this fire in the past fortnight are hours not spent running my business,” he said.

“We have 400 calving cows here at the moment.”

In response, a spokesman for the Department of Environment and Science said the fire was inaccessible and a lot of the park was naturally resistant to fire.

“Around half of the National Park is remnant subtropical rainforest – vegetation which traditionally doesn’t carry fire due to high moisture levels,” the spokesman said.

“QFES are providing aerial mapping to assist with monitoring the fire.”

The spokesman said most of the fires in the park were started on neighbouring land.

“Since 2017, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service have responded to seven bushfires entering Bulburin National Park,” he said.

“Following the 2019-20 fire, the department upgraded 5.9 kilometres of fire-line to further protect the park.”

Long-term strategy needed

Despite the fires starting on neighbouring land, Mr Coffey said the fuel load in the park was escalating them and putting other landholders at risk.

“The point of ignition is not the issue and to me is just an excuse for poor management,” he said.

“Whether it’s accidentally started and comes into the park or a lightning strike, the fuel load is the issue.”

Mr Coffey, who is also a member of the Agforce Cattle Board, said many other landholders in Central Qld were facing similar issues with the Parks and Wildlife service. He said he would like to see better communication from the department and a long-term strategy.

“Every time we are in these bad periods of fire danger, we deal with it and we throw everything at it,” he said.

“But then it rains, we all move on and forget about it. I don’t know how much longer we can be doing that for.”











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  1. Peter Williams, 13/10/2021

    He is right to the point, Parks and Wildlife do precious little to proactively manage their land and it is left to lessees and neighbors to carry the load of managing fire risk.

  2. Peter Dunn, 11/10/2021

    Isn’t it sad, but seriously, seriously a matter of national dishonesty when authorities choose denial about bushfire risk by blaming climate change whilst paying lip service to fuel reduction, particularly in National Parks and other similar estates.
    Look at the traditional pattern in this report. Firstly, deflection. The quote is that the fire was ‘allegedly’ started by a producer on a grader. Obviously there is no proof or conviction, hence the inclusion of the word “allegedly”. Still, it works for any authority if a deflection is the objective.
    Then there is the reported DES conditioning of the audience; the fire was ‘inaccessible’ and (this is the best one) ‘a lot of the park is resistant to fire’. This was backed up with talk about remnant subtropical rainforest not carrying fire. Never mind subtropical, fire can and has consumed the floor of northern tropical rainforest in exceptionally dry years, going back decades.
    The next step is the calling in of heavyweight support, and this time it used the QFRS, which is ‘providing aerial mapping to assist with the monitoring of the fire.’ Notice no suggestion about supressing the fire, just monitoring it.
    Then there is more deflection; ‘most of the fires in the park were started on neighbouring land’. (Someone else’s fault)
    Then comes the reported defence. QPWS have ‘responded to seven bushfires entering (the Park)’. Again, someone else is to blame. There is no mention of responding to bushfires leaving the Park. Obviously there were none (and the tooth fairy is coming tonight as well).
    Then the big hit. The upgrade of 5.9 km of fire line to protect the Park. As much as that?
    Given the indisputable evidence of the urgent need for a comprehensive national fuel reduction programme, which was clearly displayed as the 2019/20 bushfires ravaged the nation, the continuation of denial by the collective authorities through the maintenance of token fuel reduction programs, constitutes national incompetence and neglect.

  3. Adam Coffey, 11/10/2021

    Further to this article; when are Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service going to be held accountable in terms of land stewardship?
    As private landholders, we are being increasingly legislated to provide ecosystems services. Many of us are very proactive in this regard and recognise that production, biodiversity and beneficial ecological outcomes can go hand in hand.
    As a neighbouring landholder to a National Park I’m gobsmacked at the level to which we, as producers are held to account, when government-owned land is continually scorched in hot fires. The very reason these areas were set aside is to conserve and protect the environment. It’s very apparent after the last few years that the exact opposite is what is occurring.

  4. Richard Rains, 11/10/2021

    What an interesting, yet concerning story…..again…. ……which begs the question……do National Parks & Forests etc gain carbon credits for the trees that they grow….& in turn, do they have to buy carbon credits when those trees burn? We have had hazard reduction burns (which I fully support) in Sydney the past few days which have caused enormous amounts of smoke ……does the Council OR Nat Parks OR Govt have to buy carbon credits to cover that carbon output???? I hope someone is able to inform me please.

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