Controlled forest burn did more harm than good

Bendigo is renowned for its box ironbark forests and magnificent wildflowers, especially in spring. 

One such area, stretching down from the old Specimen Hill reservoir, and designated as a nature reserve, was destroyed by fire last week. 

This outrageous act was carried out under the auspices of Parks Victoria and the Department of Sustainability and Environment. 

There were over 50 species of wildflowers recorded in this area, including many rare orchids, and eight varieties of wattle. 

The number and variety had increased gradually over many, many years since the gold mining days. 

This year was particularly good, with large pockets of Bendigo wax flower, pink bells, chocolate lilies, sun orchids, fringe myrtle, hooded caladenia and wax-lip orchids. None of these were spared. 

The only survivors were the ubiquitous everlastings. 

This reserve should never have been burnt. Typical of ironbark forest, the soil is poor and very rocky. 

The small amount of leaf litter and poor grass posed no fire threat whatever, but was vital to the ecology. 

Ironically, areas of dry Chinese scrub on the fringe of the reserve were not burnt. 

The area closest to houses in Pinnacle Terrace was not lit either. Parks Victoria and DSE are supposedly there to care for and protect our environment. 

If they are forced by government policy to keep burning valuable areas such as this one, in the name of fuel reduction, Bendigo will soon lose one of its great natural assets. 

I think it’s a disgrace that areas posing no threat are burnt in an attempt to reach a ridiculous target figure of 350,000 hectares each year.

Bill Humphreys,

Golden Square

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