Fire, floods and the hogwash

After being sacked by the new federal government it’s easy to understand why Professor Will Steffen from the new Climate Council is reported as feeling some frustration with Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s suggestion that a connection between climate change and current fire problems is ‘absolute hogwash’.

With the closest fire, started from a lightning strike some 30-40 km to the north and the bush being as dry as chip, only significant rainfall will reduce the threat.

In that regard Bega Shire Council has recently released for public comment a flood study for the Bega and Brogo catchments undertaken by SMEC. On a positive note and something I’ve harped on about for 20 years, SMEC reccommend the installation of pluviographs, instruments that measure rainfall intensity, through out the catchments.

However, the down side can be found in the Hydrology chapter (Section 12) where it is suggested that ” . . . an inspection of Landsat imagery dated 1972 and 1980 indicated that there was no major change to the forested and cleared areas around the catchment.”

Elsewhere SEC suggest there is a ” . . . high potential for blockages at bridge crossings due to debris potential, likelihood and consequences.”

Knight creek

The dead and dying trees in the shot above, at the junction of Knights creek and the  Murrah river are mostly River peppermints (Eucaluptus elata), 20 years after the Bell-miners moved in.

As suggested in comments on the Review of Environmental Factors for the proposed re-alignment of the Princes Highway at Dignams Creek, most of these trees will end up falling into the creek and because dry peppermint readily floats, many will be moved downstream in floods.

The challenge is to get local government to consider that these changes are associated with land degradation and it isn’t hogwash to believe the outcomes will increase the possibility of wildfire, increase flood impacts and provide a greater contribution to climate change than people in the shire do.

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