Some common sense from the normally moonbat state of California, in an analysis that would apply equally well in Australia:
For purposes of analysis, the history of wildfire in California can be loosely categorized into pre-European settlement fire regimes and post-European settlement fire regimes, especially the last fifty years where rigorous fire suppression efforts have been undertaken.
Natural fire regimes that existed prior to European settlement in California (pre-1700) involved a wide range of fire frequencies and effects on ecosystems; roughly one-third of the State supported frequent fire regimes of 35 years or less. Some areas likely burned on an almost annual basis. Pre-European settlement fire patterns resulted in many millions of acres burning each year, with fire acting as a major ecological force maintaining ecosystem vigor and ranges in habitat conditions. The pre-settlement period is often viewed as the period under which the “natural” fire regime standard for assessing the ecological role of fire developed.
In the suppression (modern) era, statewide fire frequency is much lower than before the period of European settlement. Between 1950 and 2008, California averaged 320,000 acres burned annually, only a fraction of the several millions of acres that burned under the pre-settlement regimes. Land uses such as agriculture and urbanization have reduced the amount of burnable landscape, and most wildland fires are effectively suppressed to protect resources, commodities, and people.
Before the twentieth century, many forests within California were generally open and park like due to the thinning effects of recurrent fire. Decades of fire suppression and other forest management have left a legacy of increased fuel loads and ecosystems dense with an understory of shade-tolerant, late-succession plant species. The widespread level of dangerous fuel conditions is a result of highly productive vegetative systems accumulating fuels and/or reductions in fire frequency from fire suppression. In the absence of fire, these plant communities accrue biomass, and alter the arrangement of it in ways that significantly increase fuel availability and expected fire intensity. (link – PDF)
Paul Homewood (h/t) summarises thus:
- Large and frequent wildfires were the norm before European settlement.
- Regular wildfires provide an essential ecological function and increase forest health and diversity.
- Acreage burnt reduced drastically during the 20thC, as fire suppression methods took effect.
- This fire suppression, though, had the calamitous effect of allowing a dangerous build up of biomass, that now makes fires larger and more intense.
Perhaps somebody might tell Obama.
Perhaps somebody might tell Flannery.