According to modern standards, my grandfather is likely to be regarded as an “environmental criminal.” In the northeastern state of Victoria, Australia, he cut hundreds of trees in order to clear the land to build farmhouses, milking sheds, pigpens, chicken coops, forging workshops and other outbuildings. Later, for wheat fields, cattle paddocks and shearing sheds, he cut a few thousand more trees.
Normally, roads and open spaces around houses without “fuel” are good fire barriers.
The old gentleman in my family may also be convicted of “cultural plagiarism” because he used the method of aboriginal waste development. He set fire to the surrounding trees, and built several dirt roads through the nearby virgin forest to delay the spread of the fire.
| Cutting trees must eat environmental protection tickets |
In all rural areas of Australia, this used to be the standard method of land reclamation. For a long time, the indigenous people who have settled here will set fire to burn out the overgrown plants, which is the “fuel” in the current fire management jargon. They knew that without controllable fires, they would lead to uncontrolled fires. Just like that large-scale forest fire that has been burning since September last year, Australia, which has been suffering from drought, has been further destroyed.
The forest fire was burning along the east coast of Australia, killing many residents and fire volunteers and burning hundreds of houses. At the same time, the “Sydney Herald Morning News” published a report on the trial that was not unrelated to the forest fire. The report stated that 71-year-old John Kea had hired a contractor in 2014 to cut down and remove 74 trees in and around his manor yard.
The judge in the case pointed out that Kea’s main motivation for removing trees was “worry about the danger of fire in his manor”, but the elderly pensioner in Sydney’s behavior caused “significant damage” to the environment. In the end, Kea was fined 40,000 Australian dollars, counting more than 500 Australian dollars per tree.
Similar rulings are becoming more common in Australia because an ecological fundamentalism has replaced common sense. In 2004, Liam Chihan, who lives in Reed Creek, Victoria, removed all the trees around his hilltop estate, and he was fined $100,000 and was required to pay litigation costs. Five years later, the state of Victoria suffered a brutal “Black Saturday Fire”, but Chihan’s manor became the only building in the surrounding area that had not fallen.
In 2001, the transmission company TransGrid wisely used bulldozers to clear a 60-meter-long forest clearing under high-voltage transmission lines in the Daxueshan area. The company believes that high-voltage electricity should not be too close to the surrounding combustibles, but the New South Wales state government believes this behavior is “deliberately destroying the environment.” TransGrid lost 500,000 dollars to pay fines and settlement money to the state government. Two years later, reporter Miranda Devine said in the report that the clearing of the forest cleared by TransGrid became a shelter for kangaroos, wallabies and three company employees in the forest fire that year. At that time, in order to stop the forest fire, the three employees had desperately wanted to clear out the wider forest fire belt.
| Environmental protection measures or buried fire hazards |
”In the past 20 years, less than 1% of the flammable woodland we have cleared has been cleared. That is to say, the fuel load has accumulated year by year.” Brian Williams, the fire chief of the Curazhong Highland, gave a brief break during the fire. Radio 2GB said this, when he had been fighting with the flaming monster in northern Sydney for nearly three months.
Any insignificant actions intended to reduce the fuel load will be punished. We assume that you have a wood-burning fireplace in your rural home. In order to abide by the law and protect the environment, you will not cut down any tree for use as fuel wood, you will only pick up dead branches, or collect materials from trees that have fallen into the mud of the original forest. This approach can also reduce the fuel load that may cause forest fires, so you are on the side of good.
and many more! Don’t forget that in April last year, Fiona Buchanan, the head of the Midwest of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of New South Wales, warned: “The message we want to convey is: It is strictly prohibited to cut firewood in national parks. Including decayed wood and fallen trees. We hope people can understand the relevant regulations for collecting firewood. It is important that people should realize that in addition to fines on the spot, the court can also issue very high fines.”
She is not a bluff. Earlier, a man was fined A$30,000 for illegally collecting firewood in the Marambiji Valley in the national park. The reason? Buchanan explained: “Many animals and endangered species living on the ground use tree holes as nests, so the illegal removal of fallen trees and dead wood is destroying their habitat. Those animals have their own natural ecosystems, and Fallen trees are also part of it.”
Today, such natural ecosystems are spread over thousands of kilometers of land in the National Park of New South Wales, and its composition is mainly cinder and lime soil. The small animals living on the ground don’t know what they think about the new habitat.
Woodland animals could have lived a more comfortable life. The indigenous controlled burning method my grandfather adopted was not just for his own manor and surrounding area. Every year, he burns the lush weeds next to the local roads, so that the roads can play a role as a fire belt.
He never applied for a fire permit from the local fire brigade because he happened to be the local fire brigade leader. His decision is the law, and the reason he made the law is to protect his family, farm animals and manor from the ubiquitous fire risk.
Some people are not as alert as he is. My mother is over 80 years old, but she is still impressed by a fire in her youth. At that time, my grandfather dragged the whole family into the car and drove to a nearby town after about 40 minutes. The children thought that was the destination, and as a result the car continued to move forward. He didn’t say a word on that journey, and he didn’t slow down until a farm that had just been burned to ashes. The burnt cattle and sheep lay in the pasture, leaving only the ruins of the charred farmhouse.
”Look here.” My grandfather said, “If you are not prepared for fire prevention and control, this is the end.”
He stayed there long enough for the children to digest what he said. Later, one of the children succeeded him as the local fire chief and continued to set fires like his father. It has been nearly a hundred years since my grandfather built his farmhouse, and the farmhouse still stands, and the fire has never been near it.