Fire and the Australian Landscape


“Australia, when Europeans arrived, consisted of a series of biota highly adapted to what we now call hazard reduction burning. The reason is that this is what the aborigines had been practicing for 50,000 years or so.

“They were greatly assisted in this by the existence in Australia of the “The Fire Tree”, the eucalypt. The eucalypt promotes fire and is resistant to fire, so that in a regime of constant burning, eucalypts have a higher survival rate and you tend to get the type of monoculture remarked on by many early scientists, including Charles Darwin.

“Early settlers repeatedly remarked on the constant burning carried out by the Aborigines and often described the Australian landscape as grasslands with widely spaced trees.”

Peter Stitt, Bushwaker and Environmentalist.

For a fascinating report on the condition of Australia when Europeans arrived see:
http://carbon-sense.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/fire-and-landscape.pdf [PDF, 1.8 MB]

We acknowledge that this report was prepared for the Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Committee and was obtained from the library of the NSW Farmers Association.

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