Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, April 11, 2008

Further evidence of negligence of the SCA

Today I had the opportunity to see from the air the negligence of the SCA in their recent burning of the Kangaloon Aquifer area. I have reported on this previously - but only in regard to what I could see from Tourist Road. This is what it is actually like, when seen from the air.

The main area in this photo has actually been burnt correctly, using a "cool burn" technique, in accordance with correct fuel reduction protocols. However, the "obviously burnt" areas of forest have been burnt by a fire which was "too hot", either as a result of poor planning, or by loss of control over the fire. The burnt forest trees themselves will almost certainly recover, especially as we have had rain since the burn-off. However, the small animals resident in the entire burnt area, and the understory plants are at severe risk because of the intensity of that burning. And the fact that there are not "refugia" (areas which were not burnt off) is the most damaging part of this entire process. These areas which are supposed to be left unburnt, are meant to serve not only as "refuges" for animals (especially small animals), but also as "seed banks " for plants. I remind you that along Tourist Road, roughly 9 Km of forest was burnt, with only three small gaps adjacent to creeks, which were not burnt.

Of far more significance is the fact that the SCA have burnt out several "Upland Swamps". This is absolutely outside the protocols laid down by the Dept of Environment and Climate Change - protocols prepared specifically for the "Special Areas" controlled by the SCA. It is also directly in contradiction to what I was personally told about this "burn-off" by the SCA's own Regional Manager, Mr Kelvin Lambkin - that they kept the fire away from rivers and they never allow the swamps to burn. (Discussion on 24 March 2008, in Kirkland Road, Kangaloon)
a burnt-out swamp
detail of burnt-out swampnorthern end of same swamp, burnt out
In case you think I am imagining how contrary this is to the protocols, let me quote:
1.4 Fire Management and Fauna
  • Fire management should aim for a mosaic of fire regimes.
  • Mosaic burning should aim to retain some examples of all fauna habitats (including the highly flammable Upland Swamps) in a long unburnt state.
  • Fire planning should recognise the role of unburnt refugia have in the recolonisation of burnt landscapes particularly after extensive and intense wildfire. Unburnt refugia should remain unburnt for more than four years following extensive and intense wildfire. Special consideration should be given toward fire management of the Priority Fauna Habitats as these environments support a large proportion of the areas threatened fauna. Carefully considered fire management should be given to isolated populations of very rare species, particularly the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby and Stuttering Frog.
  • Source: DECC (2007) Terrestrial Vertebrate Fauna of the Greater Southern Sydney Region: Volume 4 – The Fauna of the Metropolitan, O’Hares Creek and Woronora Special Areas. A joint project between the Sydney Catchment Authority and the Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW) (DECC) under the Special Areas Strategic Plan of Management (SASPoM) by the Information and Assessment Section, Metropolitan Branch, Climate Change and Environment Protection Group, DECC, Hurstville.
Another Burnt Swamp in the Kangaloon Aquifer area.
If, as I was told by Mr Lambkin on 24 March, it is the SCA's policy that they never burn the swamps, I can only conclude that this was a burn-off which got out of control. The facts are clearly evident - Upland Swamps have been burnt by the SCA.

Is the SCA answerable for its negligence?

And what about its failure to protect the numerous endangered species in this area?

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