By Viv Forbes, Chairman,
Australia's open spaces and grasslands are being invaded by aggressive woody weeds of the eucalypt family and the feral plants they shelter such as lantana and rubber vine. This invasion is assisted by a fifth column of misguided tree huggers and climate alarmists who demand that these environmental weeds be protected and their expansion subsidised by the taxpayer!
Like Triffids, the invaders are stealthing out from every patch of bush, surrounding homes and towns, consuming grasslands and displacing grassland birds and animals, both native and domesticated.
This invasion started in neglected parks and conservation areas and was given a massive boost by the Kyoto inspired bans on controlling regrowth, even on freehold land. The final stupidity is the use of carbon credit finance to encourage the deliberate planting of woody weeds on land currently used to produce food and fibres.
For as long as humans have lived in Australia, woody weeds have been kept in check by their natural predator – bushfire. But more reckless policies, promoted by ill-advised urban tree lovers, have prevented the regular use of fire in many areas.
As wildfires in several areas have shown, the heavy fire load in this creeping bush becomes a lurking menace as dangerous to neighbours as an unexploded bomb. It must be kept in check by periodic small fires, well managed grazing animals or mechanical means. "Shutting it up" is an unacceptable and unnatural practice.
The explorers Leichhardt and Mitchell both reported the native use of fire to restore the grasslands and both remarked on the grassland and open forest they encountered. However, since their time, there has been an explosion of woody weeds into the Mitchell grass country, and into many other grasslands. It is like a cancer on the land.
These scrubby weeds and carbon credit plantations also harbour all the pests and predators that threaten native wildlife and domestic livestock – feral foxes, pigs, dogs and cats.
The global warming alarmists and others have led us into deadly delusion. Trees do not control the climate, and eucalypt plantations and infestations are not worthy of elevation to saintly status in the plant kingdom. Just like grasses, herbs and algae, they are part of the grand carbon cycle on which all life depends. If humans need to worship and protect any land plant species it should be not useless invasive woody weeds, but the valuable grasses and legumes including cereals such as wheat, oats, barley and rye, pastures such as Mitchell grass and buffell grass, legumes such as lucerne, clover, soya beans and siratro and giant grasses such as sugar cane, sorghum and maize.
It is strange that governments keen to protect farm land from coal mining are promoting policies that result in the destruction of grazing land by state protected weeds.
"By virtually ensuring that many grazing enterprises will become uneconomic, as unaddressed tree thickening continues, we are opening the door to unsustainable practices and severe damage to this State’s huge land and woodland resource base." - Dr Bill Burrows, 2005 "Fact and Fiction supporting the Vegetation Management Act."
In the above report Dr Burrows looks at the alleged scientific foundations of Queensland’s Vegetation Management Act. He shows that aboriginals used regular frequent fires to maintain the grasslands and grassy woodland that covered much of Australia when European settlers arrived. Since then the reduced burning has allowed dramatic growth in tree cover which displaces grassland birds and animals, increases the risk of fierce fires and reduces runoff into rivers and dams. 'Protection" of this invasive vegetation is a foolish policy.
"What a dumb legacy the so called ‘Smart State’ will pass on to its inheritors".
Comments from the Leichhardt expedition (1845), mainly from Gilbert's journal:
"on 28th February . . . emerged upon "beautifully undulating country covered with the most luxuriant grass". (Isaac River area).
"the most beautiful description of country . . well covered with grass and well adapted for sheep . . ". (Suttor River area).
"from a hill near our camp we can see to eastward a broad extent of valley with numerous fine lakes. Smoke from Natives' fires is seen in all directions around us." (Valley of Lagoons).
Expeditions by Major Thomas Mitchell, 1830-1845, mainly from "Journal of Mitchell into Qld".
"Across the mountains (in Victoria), Mitchell found excellent grazing land - land richer than any grazing land he had found in New South Wales and named this country "Australia Felix".
"We now had before us (central Queensland) water and grass in abundance to a distance as unlimited and indefinite as our hopes of discovery" (p. 94)
"…natives had disappeared having previously set fire to the grass" (p. 101)
"… travelling amongst very luxuriant grass" (p. 106).
See this also on how the aborigines created the grasslands of Australia: