Australia's unprecedented wildfires that raged for months and destroyed millions of acres were likely made worse by industrial logging of native forests. Five senior Australian scientists from the Australian National University, Macquarie University and the University of Queensland said that logging native forests makes fire more severe and they are calling for a clearer assessment about how land management and forestry practices add to the risk of wildfires. Logging causes a rise in fuel loads, increases potential drying of wet forests and causes a decrease in forest height. It can leave up to 450 tonnes of combustible fuel per hectare close to the ground — by any measure, that's an incredibly dangerous level of combustible material in seasonally dry landscapes. By allowing these practices to increase fire severity and flammability, we undermine the safety of some of our rural communities. It affects wildlife too by creating habitat loss, fragmentation and disturbance for many species, with major negative effects on forest wildlife. The contribution of logging to bushfires needs greater scrutiny, and there should be more public awareness about the compelling links between wildfires and the climate crisis.
The first is to prevent logging of moist forests, particularly those close to urban areas. We must also reduce forest fragmentation by proactively restoring some previously logged forests. In the event of wildfires, land managers must avoid practices such as 'salvage' logging — or logging of burnt forests — which severely reduces recovery of a forest.
Industry data showed that some 161 million cubic meters of native forest was logged between 1996 and 2018. Beyond the direct and immediate impacts on biodiversity of disturbance and proximity to disturbed forest, there is compelling evidence that Australia's historical and contemporary logging regimes have made many Australian forests more fire prone and contributed to increased fire severity and flammability. (source: EcoWatch.com)
What can we do to protect our forests? Just think about where do your objects come from. Live sustainably, eat organic local food, ditch single use plastics, plant trees and flowers in your garden or balcony, plant a tree where is most needed!
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