Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Logging does not cause ‘tipping points’ for Mega Fires

Mountain ash regeneration

Foreground and mid-ground: young mountain ash regeneration unburnt after 7 February wildfire. Background: burnt 1939 ash regrowth, same wildfire. (Photo: A. Leong, courtesy Victorian Association of Forest Industries)

By Ian Ferguson and Phil Cheney

An alternative view to a report published in Australasian Science last month.

Ian Ferguson is Professor Emeritus of Forest Science at the Dept of Forest and Ecosystem Science, University of Melbourne. Phil Cheney is former Head of the Bushfire Research Unit, CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

We take issue with several aspects of the Lindenmayer interview reported in the December issue of Australasian Science (http://www.australasianscience.com.au/article/issue-december-2011/exclus...) and the parent paper (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108:15887-15891) on which it was based. A detailed response to the parent paper has been published (Aust For 74(4): 362-365).

Our concerns about the Australasian Science interview include the omission of interventions to avert the landscape trap, and misconceptions about fire behavior and the effectiveness of logging and associated roading and skilled workforce in aiding wildfire suppression.

In the interview, Lindenmayer describes the formation of landscape traps. Mountain ash or alpine ash regeneration resulting from an initial wildfire converts to wattle or other species following a second wildfire, if not carrying sufficient seed to regenerate prolifically, as it would otherwise do at older ages. Substantial occurrences (e.g. Toorongo Plateau, Black Spur and large areas of alpine ash regeneration from the 2003 wildfire, burnt again in the 2006 Great Divide wildfires) are well known to foresters...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.