Give it time

Letters to the editor

Opinion
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For those affected by the bushfires, take some time - your mind and body will need time and space to process what's happened.

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Give it time

On the September 6, 2019, we lost 1012 hectares of grass in conditions very similar to what's been experienced elsewhere in the past week.

Since then, we've had 152 millimetres of rain. Thankfully, we didn't lose any livestock or houses.

I share these thoughts in order to help in some way those who have experienced recent similar devastation.

Take some time - don't have any expectation of yourself to achieve anything for a few days. Your mind and body will need time and space to process what's happened. Give it time.

Of course address the immediate needs of your animals. Reach out for fodder through charity or the Local Land Servcies.

We didn't use this, as we were able to buy some at short notice and still had some grass, but it is there for you to access, so please do.

Make a plan. My order of priorities were:

  • Livestock - how many can I afford to keep? What feed have I got available? Do any require vet assistance or euthanasia? Do I need an excavator to bury the losses?
  • Our decision was to sell any cattle for which we didn't have feed available. My initial reaction was to sell all our trade/young cattle and retain our breeding stock, however, after some time to think, I chose to sell our breeders. I decided that I could retain more young cattle than breeders, with a lower feed requirement, meaning I had more to turnover, which would provide more cashflow.
  • Water - as essential as feed, try to restore your water system as soon as you can if it's been damaged.
  • Fencing - this will be a long haul. Chunk it down into small stages. We set weekly goals as to how far we wanted to get done, which made the task much less daunting.
  • Start with the boundary and work your way through your priorities from there.
  • BlazeAid are an incredible resource, choose to use them if you wish, they are wonderful people.
  • Accept some help - acknowledge that it will take many hands. Think about the additional hands you'll need and whose most readily willing and able to contribute.
  • Our community is that much stronger for having this disaster. Lift each other up. Remember, everyone has done as much as they thought they could to this point.
  • Get some rest - these experiences make us stronger, but there is no denying they take a toll, physically and mentally.
  • Just stop. If you're thinking about getting that one more thing done, before going home to your family, think about if it will matter if it's done tonight, or can it wait until the morning. Most of the time, it's the latter. The love and support of your family is what you need most right now, and so do they from you.
  • Keep an eye out for your mates, now more than ever. Keep talking. Stop for a yarn whenever you see them. Check in on them.

My sincerest condolences to all those who have endured such huge losses recently.

I hope this helps, in some small way.

STUART AUSTIN,

Wilmot Cattle Company manager, Hernani.

Lost time

The Bell River, from where I pump much of my stock and domestic water, has run dry for just the second time in my family's time here, about 190 years.

The first time was in 2009 and was relieved in 2010 by the highest flood the Bell had ever had.

I thought then, this is climate change. I was proud of the ground cover we maintained through 2018-19 and how we avoided our topsoil blowing away, despite going through our third consecutive record dry winter.

Not anymore. December and January are frying what is left. It all makes me very angry when I hear conservative politicians and commentators ridicule the thousands of scientists working in hundreds of reputable institutions that have been predicting future scenarios for 2020 and beyond.

Drought is slow and silent, but the horrendous bushfires have affected masses of people like a train wreck.

The anger is in the news and directed at Prime Minister Scott Morrison; anger from people taken by surprise when disaster strikes and they discover those in power have known the disaster was coming, yet did nothing.

In fact, Mr Morrison's side of politics, for over 20 years, has destroyed any attempt by Australian Governments to prepare Australia for the future.

Well, the future is here. Sadly the Nationals, which has done so much good for regional Australia in decades gone, will be rightly maligned for actively destroying attempts to prepare Australia against a clear threat that would affect their regional constituents drastically, and for lost opportunities for regional Australia to benefit from the transition to a cleaner and safer future.

Twenty years is a lot of lost time.

Australia negotiated a special deal in the Kyoto protocol and then relied on banning farmers from clearing trees to claim that what was notdone was actually a reduction.

Now Mr Morrison's government undermines negotiations in Madrid by insisting we should count those credits to meet our specially low commitments made begrudgingly at the Paris agreement.

It is sad that regional Australia has missed out on opportunities for new industries based on cheap, renewable energy. Instead, we have had ad-hoc development hamstrung by the threat of government instability.

The Nationals have been integral to this loss and so will never get a positive word from me again.

ROBERT LEE, Larras Lee.

What role for hazard reduction burning?

I am grateful to James Jackson, president of NSW Farmers, for his comments in The Land, December 18 ("Climate Change Blamed for Fires", p25) pointing out the lack of fuel reductions over winter as the reason bushfires rapidly escalate into the raging firestorms we have seen across the eastern states in recent months.

This policy has been validated both by science and past experience.

In their book "Burning Issues", 1911, scientists Mark Adams and Peter Attwill (available from CSIRO Publishing) emphasise the importance of fuel reduction to a level of 10 per cent of the area of National Parks and other public owned lands on an annual basis.

The green-inspired policies now governing these institutions are deeply flawed and must be changed not to just permit fuel reduction, but to demand it.

Whatever effect climate change may be contributing only accentuates the urgent need for change.

Over tens of thousands of years, the Aboriginal people perfected widespread use of fire for numerous purposes, sometimes referred to as firestick farming.

Given the time scale, they had a substantial impact on the evolution of our unique landscapes, flora and fauna, creating a constantly changing patchwork or mosaic pattern of varying degrees of fuel accumulations.

As an example, Mary Gilmore in her book "Old Days, Old Ways" recalls in 1934 how her father described the methods of these people burning fire breaks around camping sites.

Fuel reduction today should closely resemble these mosaic patterns of the past.

In his book "The Largest Estate on Earth", Bill Gamage of the Australian National University provides a reliable oversight into pre-white settlement Australia.

As a fourth generation grazier who has spent a lifetime caring for our family's land and farming enterprises this has broadened my understanding of the land I belong to.

JAMES LITCHFIELD,

Hazeldean Pty Ltd, Cooma.

ALSO READ: Australia burns while we fight over how to better deal with bushfires

Carbon cycle

The vexed question of livestock emissions being responsible for some 70 per cent of agriculture's carbon emissions., discussed recently in the The Land ("Beef must stop ignoring its large CO2 footprint", December 5, p80) needs some more enlightened, factual, discussion.

Firstly: The 70pc figure is a result of the mendacious way these emissions are calculated.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dictates the rules Australia is obliged to employ.

This organisation only allows for the calculation of the emissions arising from livestock.

It does not calculate the carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere by the plants that the livestock ate.

This is a recognised part of the acknowledged carbon cycle that unambiguously operates here.

This was acknowledged by Dr David Ugaide, from the (then) Australian Greenhouse Office and both the Australian Howard and the New Zealand federal governments at the time, who approached the UNFCCC to correct the rules to take this omission into account.

The UNFCCC, for undisclosed reasons, refused to do so.

This, by any standard is a clear corruption of science and the scientific method that inevitably leads to fallacious claims such as these.

In fact, work at Harden over some 30 years by the CSIRO, looking at the status of soil carbon employing the latest and best conservation farming techniques, found that soil carbon had typically decreased by some 30pc.

The only area showing a small increase in soil carbon was from the non-cropped areas grazed by livestock.

It is therefore clear that if livestock emissions were correctly calculated on a net-emissions basis, they would not only be 'carbon-neutral', but more likely slightly carbon-positive.

The industry needs to check and recognise these facts and act to correct this gross injustice to our industry.

Secondly: Carbon dioxide is essential for all life as we know it.

Every cell in our bodies is based on carbon, predominantly obtained from carbon dioxide.

IAN McCLINTOCK,

"Milford Lodge", Cootamundra.

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