The bushfires across Australia since October 2019 have been devastating to say the very least.. To-date 32 people have lost their lives, over a billion animals have died, which includes around ⅓ rd of the total Koala population. These animals have suffered more than others due to being slow moving. Not only that, around 10.65 million hectares of land has been burnt – that’s nearly ½ the size of the UK! And it’s not over yet.
Whilst Australia battles to survive and the crisis deepens public anxiety about climate change, the future of this great country is in question. Whilst bushfires are not new, the increasing temperatures and droughts as a result of climate change have seen the problem exacerbated to the extent where they cannot be stopped with the current approach.
So what can be done? The answer may well lie in the oldest and most traditional ideas implemented by Australia’s indigenous people. Fighting fire with fire; using techniques such as strategic burning or ‘cool burns’. During the cold months fires are started to deliberately create fire breaks and reduce fuel loads in high risk areas.
These aboriginal practices have been implemented in the North of Australia for centuries and have cut destructive wildfires in half. This old idea has proven hugely successful and this traditional knowledge is now being sort.
Programmes of using these old ideas, mixed with new technology are already underway. Helicopters are being used to drop thousands of tiny sensors across large areas of land during the cold seasons which provide data to help judge when fires can be started that are unlikely to rage out of control. And NASA data is used to look at the carbon emissions and undertake computer modelling to track fires too. The idea of preventative burning, mixed with the new technology to help keep this under control is a solid one.
No good idea is a new idea
The idea that fire doesn’t need to be the enemy, but rather could be the cure is difficult for many european-minded individuals to consider, because it goes against that which has been ingrained in us from childhood, But like any great idea, you need to consider different approaches, look at other ideas already out there and how they can be adapted and moulded to the future. Much of the innovation and progress today is actually old knowledge in new combinations, so whatever your challenge look at the past and see if the ideas you find can help shape a different future.
Following the latest bout of devastating bushfires, more of Australia is beginning to consider these old ideas and how they can be adapted to a more modern society and different areas, it’s just sad that it wasn’t thought about before it got to this.
If you’d like to donate to provide emergency funds to care for injured wildlife, restore homes and help Australia rebuild there are many causes to choose from, here’s a few we’ve supported:
WIRES Wildlife Rescue – wires.org.au
WWF – donate.wwf.org.au
RSPCA – rspcavic.org.au / rspcansw.org.au / rspcasa.org.au
Australian Red Cross – redcross.org.au
NSW Royal Fire Service – rfs.nsw.gov.au
Victoria’s County Fire Association – cfa.vic.gov.au