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Liberal candidate ignoring RFS Commissioner on hazard reduction burns and climate change

In a media release issued by the group Eden-Monaro Environmental Alliance, spokesperson Allan Rees offers the groups concerns around the facts contained in an article in The Guardian on Monday. Allan writes "Liberal candidate for the Eden-Monaro by-election, Fiona Kotvojs, says reducing fuel is the only way to manage bushfires. The article quotes from her joint submission to the Bushfire Royal Commission.

"However, RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said hazard reduction is important but not a panacea for bushfire risk and has "very little effect at all" on the spread of fire in severe or extreme weather. (SBS News, 8 January, 2020)

"Ms Kotvojs does not mention climate change as having any role, but the RFS has factored in climate change since at least 2013.

"Climate change is having an impact on every level of fire management, the New South Wales rural fire chief has said on the first anniversary of the Blue Mountains bushfires. (NSW RFS, 17 October. 2014)

"While Hazard Reduction Burns have a role to play in reducing the threat of bushfires, until climate change is addressed by reducing emissions, fires will only get worse, according to the Eden-Monaro Environmental Alliance (EMEA)."

The EMEA spokesperson Allan Rees says Ms Kotvoj’s opinion is contrary to evidence presented to the Bushfire Royal Commission by expert witnesses.

“The Commission has been told that hazard reduction is an important tool, but it’s not enough to protect us from catastrophic bushfires,” Mr Rees said.

“University of Tasmania Professor of Environmental Change Biology, David Bowman, told the Commission that doing burns in the wrong areas areas can make the environment even more combustible.”

“Associate Professor Kevin Tolhurst from the University of Melbourne's Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science told the Commission that, in the case of the 2003 Canberra fires, a firebreak of kilometres worth of grazed paddocks was no match for the fire that came down from the mountains.”

“Climate change is leading to hotter, drier conditions in many parts of Australia. We just had the hottest, driest year on record, followed by our worst ever bushfires.”

“Ms Kotvojs should listen to the experts and the leadership of the RFS and understand that climate change is making extreme bushfires” said Mr Rees. You can read the Guardian article HERE

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