Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Grose Valley Fire – World Heritage takes a hit

“The Blue Gum Forest, birth-place of the modern conservation movement, was badly damaged by the Grose fire on Wednesday the 22nd of November. If this precious forest was a row of houses, then there would automatically be a major investigation into how the fire was fought. The fact that this major loss of our natural heritage is only now becoming known is testimony to the prevailing attitudes of those controlled the media spin during this recent fire event,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“Until today the overall perception from the media was that this fire was a good one. No houses or lives lost”, Mr Muir said.

“There where no media updates on the struggle to save Blue Gum. No the reports of success in saving fire sensitive rare plants and rainforests along the escarpment edge. All the media reports spoke of bushland burnt; not on the success of any strategy to minimise the impact on the World Heritage listed national park, while saving lives and property”, he said.

“The Blue Mountains National Park Fire Management Strategy 2004 sets out all the necessary actions to protect the natural environment, as well as life and property. Yet for some reason it appears at this stage that the fire was not fought according to that agreed Strategy, as far as its provisions on natural heritage were concerned”, said Mr Muir.

“Increased fire is a major threat to World Heritage values of the Greater Blue Mountains national parks. Unless we develop and implement better strategies to defend the bush, as well as lives and property, then climate change will make this threat much worse,” Mr Muir said.

“The fire management strategies and techniques undertaken during the fire need to be re-examined to ensure the diversity of the Blue Mountains forests is protected into the future,” he said.

“Future fire management requires the feedback that only an inquiry into the Grose Valley Fire can achieve. Such an inquiry should not be taken as a criticism of those involved in fighting fire. It is an opportunity to ensure that everyone stays on fully board with future efforts to mininise fire damages,” Mr Muir said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 9550 3615 (ah)