Media releases


8 January 2020

Fuel Management – an important part of the integrated strategy the future

The Howitt Society emphatically rejects the assertion by the CFA Chief Officer that fuel reduction burns are a ’load of emotional rubbish’. “Reality in the bush shows the opposite even under these extreme fire conditions” said Secretary Garry Squires.

It is simple science – if the fuel load is halved the fire intensity is reduced by a factor of 4, if the fuel load is reduced to a quarter then the fire intensity is reduced by a factor of 16.  No fuel equals no fire, reduced fuel equals a substantial reduction in fire intensity. 
Fuel reduction burns usually do not halt a fire but they do greatly reduce the intensity. In the Orbost and Bruthen areas during the past weeks there have been numerous examples where autumn 2019 fuel reduction burns have stopped the run of a fire and other examples where recent fuel reduction has reduced the intensity such that crews could easily control the fire.
Planned burning is really the only broad area option to lessen the impact of these high intensity large area fires. More trucks and aircraft can do little to stop these fires whilst they are so intense.

We cannot allow the devastation caused by wildfire over the past 15 years to continue. It has been too persistent, to pervasive. It is obvious we must adapt, not down the road, but now. There will be nothing left worth saving if we sit back and wait for climate change abatement policies to save the our landscapes.

Governments and agencies, their reputations on the line, will inevitably become defensive and resist when held accountable for a demanding burning program. The problem for this fire season extends beyond governments, to all political actors … and that includes media. We are in this together. We will only get out of it together.

“We have to seriously question our management of livelihood and property, native flora and fauna, clean water production, carbon storage and simply the bush as we know it”, according to Society President Geoff Burrowes.
“Above all, our fortitude and heart is being tested. We cannot walk away from this problem saying it is too risky, too difficult and maybe the bush doesn’t count anyway. This is un-Australian.”

The Howitt Society is a group of experienced land and fire managers and acknowledged bushmen who are concerned for the health and safety of the Australian bush and in particular fire management.   

Attributable quotes

“No fuel equals no fire, reduced fuel equals a substantial reduction in fire intensity.  – Garry Squires

“Our fortitude and heart is being tested. We cannot walk away from this problem saying it is too risky, too difficult and maybe the bush doesn’t count anyway. This is un-Australian.”– Geoff Burrowes

Further information : Howitt Society President Geoff Burrowes 0408 371571 or Secretary Garry Squires 0417 588210


20 December 2019

A Bushfire Summit should focus on Fuel Management

There has been much in the media recently claiming that climate change is the cause of the large fires around Australia at present.

“Hiding behind climate change is not a strategy to address the increasing number and intensity of fires across Australia” said Howitt Society President Geoff Burrowes.
“Even if all burning of fossil fuels was stopped across the world tomorrow climate change is not going to shift into reverse.”
“In reality genuine climate change reversal strategies are years away from being internationally adopted, and decades away from beginning to impact fire regimes.  So we need to adapt our fuel management strategies to deal with warmer and drier conditions as they are today”, Mr Burrowes added. 

“The Howitt Society supports the call from the Emergency leaders for Climate Action for an Emergency Bushfire Summit after the current fire season, however the focus of that forum needs to be on reducing the fuel loads in our forested areas” the Howitt Society Secretary Garry Squires said.
“Whilst the climate is becoming warmer and drier it is not this that is making the fires more intense and more difficult to control but rather the unprecedented amount of fuel that land managers have allowed to accumulate.”
“There are three factors that allow fires to burn – an ignition source, oxygen and fuel. The only one we are able to influence is the amount of fuel available when ignition does occur, whether it be lightning, an arsonist, a campfire or any other source. We know that as fuel availability doubles, fire burns four times more intensely and so there are great benefits in reducing fuel loads” said Mr Squires.
“We also know that fuels can be reduced over large areas using existing and familiar technologies. All that is required is policy change at a government level and appropriate funding. A well funded, well led, state-wide, even nation-wide fuel mitigation campaign would be an effective first step in protecting Australian lives and property and the bush itself from the grip of a warmer and drier climate” 

The Howitt Society is a group of experienced land and fire managers and acknowledged bushmen who are concerned for the health and safety of the Australian bush and in particular fire management.   

Attributable quotes

“A well funded, well led, state-wide, even nation-wide fuel mitigation campaign would be an effective first step in protecting Australian lives and property and the bush itself from the grip of a warmer and drier climate”  – Garry Squires

“Hiding behind climate change is not a strategy to address the increasing number and intensity of fires across Australia” – Geoff Burrowes

Further information : Howitt Society President Geoff Burrowes 0408 371571 or Secretary Garry Squires 0417 588210


19 December 2019

Bushfires and Climate Change

There has been much in the media recently claiming that climate change is the cause of the large fires around Australia at present. Hiding behind climate change is not a strategy to address the increasing number and intensity of fires across Australia according to Howitt Society President Geoff Burrowes. The Howitt Society is a group of experienced land and fire managers and acknowledged bushmen who are concerned for the health and safety of the Australian bush and in particular fire management.   

Even if all burning of fossil fuels was stopped across the world tomorrow climate change is not going to shift into reverse. In reality genuine climate change reversal strategies are years away from being internationally adopted, and decades away from beginning to impact fire regimes.  So we need to adapt our fuel management strategies to deal with warmer and drier conditions as they are today, said Mr Burrowes. 

The Howitt Society supports the call from the Emergency leaders for Climate Action for an Emergency Bushfire Summit after the current fire season.  However the focus of that forum needs to be on reducing the fuel loads in our forested areas according to Howitt Society Secretary Garry Squires.  Whilst the climate is becoming warmer and drier it is not this that is making the fires more intense and more difficult to control but rather the unprecedented amount of fuel that land managers have allowed to accumulate.

There are three factors that allow fires to burn – an ignition source, oxygen and fuel. The only one we are able to influence is the amount of fuel available when ignition does occur, whether it be lightning, an arsonist, a campfire or any other source. We know that as fuel availability doubles, fire burns four times more intensely and so there are great benefits in reducing fuel loads said Mr Squires.  We also know that fuels can be reduced over large areas using existing and familiar technologies. All that is required is policy change at a government level and appropriate funding.

A well funded, well led, state-wide, even nation-wide fuel mitigation campaign would be an effective first step in protecting Australian lives and property and the bush itself from the grip of a warmer and drier climate 

Further information : Howitt Society President Geoff Burrowes 0408 371571 or Secretary Garry Squires 0417 588210