Sole focus on hazard reduction burning 'a recipe for future disaster' says National Parks Association of NSW president Anne Dickson

The National Parks Association of NSW expressed deep concern in relation to the devastating impacts of the ongoing bushfire crisis.
The National Parks Association of NSW expressed deep concern in relation to the devastating impacts of the ongoing bushfire crisis.

In the wake of the bushfire crisis on the Mid North Coast, National Parks Association of NSW president Anne Dickson said focusing purely on hazard reduction burning is "a recipe for future disaster."

The association has expressed deep concern in relation to the devastating impacts of the ongoing bushfire crisis.

Ms Dickson said evidence shows fire management is becoming more challenging under the influence of long-term drying and increasing temperatures.

"Our members live across the State and many have experienced firsthand the terrible effects of wildfire on their local communities, wildlife and landscape," Ms Dickson said.

"The all-too-familiar claims after each fire disaster that the root cause of fire is a lack of prescribed burning in national parks is not only unhelpful, it's dangerous and takes away from the importance of developing new ways to deal with the increased threat fire is having on our communities.

"We need to stop looking for magic bullet solutions to fire management and simplistic blame shifting."

National parks and other conservation reserves make up less than 15 per cent of total fire prone land in the State but contribute more than 75 per cent of the area subject to prescribed burning each year.

"There's no question that additional resources would enable more prescribed burning across all land tenures. But we can't kid ourselves that prescribed burning is the complete solution, especially given the increasingly narrow windows of opportunity in which burns can be safely conducted," Ms Dickson said.

"With the threat of catastrophic fires set to increase in the future, we must listen to the wisdom of the former fire chiefs and acknowledge the world is facing a new level of fire threat.

"We must contribute to global action on climate change. We must increase our capacity for response, including properly resourced fire agencies and guaranteed access to specialist aviation resources.

"Our planning and building standards must respond to the emerging climatic conditions. And yes, we must dedicate more resources for all forms of hazard reduction across all tenures."

The increasing intensity and frequency of fire is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity and natural landscapes, according to Ms Dickson.

"It may be politically expedient to pretend that conservationists exercise some mythical power over fire legislation and Bush Fire Management committees, but it is not so," she said.

"Such wild and simplistic claims avoid the very real and complex challenges of protecting our communities and the healthy environments that support our quality of life."