LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Kangaroo Island
16 January 2020
The Adelaide Advertiser published a Letter to the Editor from IFA/AFG Member and Managing Director of Kangaroo Island Plantations Keith Lamb. I attended the Kangaroo Island fires in an active response role between 20 December and January 5, and remained on the island to assist with recovery while the mop up continues.
The extent and severity of the fires requires a major rethink by the community and government towards landscape management on Kangaroo Island. Several factors compounded the risk of fire on KI. The proximity of a wilderness park to homes, farmland, timber plantations and tourist infrastructure, on the western end of a laterally oriented island, amplifies fire risk from South Australian Mediterranean climate. In 2007 and again in 2020, firefighters risked their lives to contain fires; while farmers, tourist operators, timberland investors and their employees paid the price for policies and practices that were arguably based on incomplete understanding of risk, or on factors that have changed due to climate change.
The island community and ecology paid the price for policies and practices that were arguably based on incomplete understanding of risk. Or on the factors that have changed due to climate change. Or perhaps both.
As a professional forester, on behalf of the Institute of Foresters, I call on community leaders, scientists, land management professionals, government and affected communities to guide the recovery plan for Kangaroo Island. The island needs a mature and rationale debate of appropriate landscape management and fire risk policies.
This should be based on the new knowledge and experience.