Residents outraged over forest fire

Greg Bowering and Michael Oates, who live in the Boradwater National Park, are angry that a hazard reduction burn planned by National Parks and Wildlife will destroy a young rainforest around their homes.

Plans for a hazard reduction burn in Broadwater National Park have angered the parks two residents, who say it will destroy a burgeoning forest and do little to protect their homes on the headland.

Greg Bowering and Michael Oates say they have identified more than 30 littoral rainforest species in the six hectare headland area, which the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) plans to burn off in the next month.

In a recent letter the NPWS stated the reason for the burn was primarily to protect life and property and further to enhance and protect biodiversity values.

But the residents say they dont want to be protected or see the young rainforest go up in smoke.

We appreciate the fact that NPWS is trying to protect our homes, Greg said, but theres a 15-metre wide fire break at the bottom of the hill and historically this has been shown to stop large wildfires. The littoral rainforest species occurring there are holding together the escarpment of the only all-sand headland in the Northern Rivers. Its a fragile environment that creates a buffer against fire we just dont understand why youd interfere with nature.

NPWS spokesman Lawrence Orel said the hazard reduction burn was going to go ahead despite the residents objections.

They have been identified as being at risk in the Northern Rivers bushfire management plan, he said. The burn will take place in late May or early June, and it has the support of the Northern Rivers Bushfire Management Committee and the local Rural Fire Service brigade captain.

Michael said he and Greg would not give up easily.

National Parks and Wildlife needs to think this through not only for Broadwater but for all areas where sustainability is the issue, he said. We want to come up with a creative solution and save this little patch of rainforest.

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