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UniSA expert calls for ‘fire-line’ to future-proof against bushfire disaster

Media Release

As fires continue to burn across Australia, damage estimates are now in the billions. More than 8.4 million hectares have been burnt, almost 2000 homes have been destroyed, and 26 people have lost their lives.

Such immense devastation means policymakers are under pressure to identify strategies that will future-proof communities before they start rebuilding beyond the 2020 bushfires.

UniSA sustainability expert, Dr Sukhbir Sandhu says Australia should consider the establishment of a ‘fire-line’ – a bushfire demarcation line – to identify high-risk areas not recommended for human habitation.

In the same vein as Goyder’s Line of rainfall (created in South Australia 1865 to map areas liable to drought and therefore unsuitable for planting crops), Dr Sandhu says a fire-line would help people clearly recognise areas that are suitable, or not suitable, for living.

“The frequency and intensity of bushfires in Australia have changed dramatically over the past decade – our fire season is longer, the fires are more brutal, and the fallout is extensive,” Dr Sandhu says. “Accordingly, Australia’s responses to the fires must change too.

“As people look to rebuild their homes, schools and communities, we need to be asking the question – is it really safe to do so in these areas?

“The current bushfires have destroyed the livelihoods of far too many people to be remedied by standard recovery and rebuilding strategies. And, as fires continue to burn into residential areas, governments must consider something more ground-breaking in recovery.

“It’s time for policymakers to take a strong stand where it is safe for communities to rebuild, and a fire demarcation line could help achieve this.”

Dr Sandhu says that policymakers have the basic tools to start such an initiative which, in conjunction with CFS aerial footage, satellite imagery, and well-developed insurance company models (that not only identify areas susceptible to bushfires, but coastal flooding as a result of rising sea levels) would provide clear information for a new fire-line.

She says that areas adjacent to fire-lines should also be built to compulsory bushfire-resilient construction guidelines.

“We have the technology to create homes with bushfire resistant materials, and to enable houses with certain structural properties to serve as fire bunkers. But to date, there are no clear policies that support or promote these technologies for use in vulnerable areas,” Dr Sandhu says.

“This is not about quick fixes; we need long-term, sustainable strategies to address the undeniable effects of climate change.”

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  1. Phil Pryor

    Goyder’s line was one of the few intelligent principles established to guide Australians .., but, was ignored by the ignoramuses (fancy that) who always know nothing thus know better…We should have a politician recruiting and endorsement line, a decent test to keep out the pricks, loudmouthed failures (especially advertising anuses) and any overambitious nobody but wannabe. That should cut out the obnoxious idiots in the country party, most of the faecal fools of conservative liberal ranks, some fringe idiots who have fascist fantasies, and, an assortment of the lowbrow idiot Hansonite type, repulsive, regressive and regrettable. Out of all of the population, c. 25 million, can we get about fifty to a hundred decent, intelligent, experienced, honest representatives? No?

  2. Harry Lime

    We could do a lot of things Phil,but doing anything approaching sensible ain’t gonna happen with the Disaster Pastor and his fckwit followers.The public wheeling out of Karen Andrews and some other non entity to back up his ongoing lies isn’t a good look.Add to that ,the execrable happy clapper Stuart Robert telling huge porkies about the number of deaths regarding the unconscionable administration of the NDIS just adds to the flames that are going to burn the
    Shithead from the Shire down.If there really is a God,if I was SComo I’d be avoiding thunderstorms.The forecast looks promising.

  3. Kerri

    We also need to regulate against crops that steal water already committed to existing agriculture.

  4. Josephus

    Allocating huge quantities of water to mining at the expense of local communities of humans and animals too is as wicked as it is stupid.

  5. RomeoCharlie29

    We are not going to get a considered response or a long term strategy from a Government whose ideological bent is to first deny, then make excuses, then finally throw money piecemeal in many different directions. Instead of a Royal Commission, it is suggested, the government should just adopt the recommendations of previous fire inquiries. But this would be too sensible. A RC should at least confirm the culpability of this, and previous, LNP governments for the extent of these fires. And we should never forget the role of the bandy-legged budgie smuggler and his Svengali, PETA Credlin, in destroying the one thing now almost universally agreed to be a significant contributor to reduced emissions, the Carbon Pricing strategy.

    Oh, and yes to all of the above.

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