Mike’s and Kieran’s reflections have each brought to life a …

Comment on In the company of birds: Iain Campbell by Fiona Walsh.

Mike’s and Kieran’s reflections have each brought to life a little of Iain Campbell’s life journey and works. Thank you. I never met or knew Iain in person but his artworks I admired for their ironic reflection on this town within our country. I can see his passing leaves a space within and amongst friends and colleagues.

Recent Comments by Fiona Walsh

Real young people, not the faceless offender
Rainer, it is good to read of the experience shared by yourself and your countrymen in the group. It seems you are humble, wise, trusting, open-hearted and deeply considered. I valued reading your quiet questions of local people even to finer details like where to put your swag. So often European Australians come to a cross-cultural context, with at best little recognition of our own assumptions and presumptions and worse, with beliefs that ‘the solution’ is known by outsiders.
There is much to learn from the guidance of older people and the inspiration and energy of younger people. Thank you for writing and sharing the account of this trip and its deeper insights.

West MacDonnells blaze: sorrow and questions
To the rangers, other parks staff, Aboriginal rangers, Bushfires staff, volunteers and others – thank you again for your work in the recent Tjoritja (West Macs) fires.
The valiant efforts to protect at least Angkerle Atwatye (Standley Chasm) and Ormiston building complexes were obvious. I also acknowledge the worry of your families.
Conditions were in the 40s, winds strong, terrain often inaccessible even on foot and equipment probably limited.
I expect there was confusion, conflicting priorities, misunderstandings, even mistakes. These are to learn from.
A cooperative, well-coordinated, sustained approach is needed. I expect you’ll look to experts like those named in earlier articles and others.
Fire management is largely about people.
To the wider public, we’re all responsible even indirectly as our choices, our actions – our inaction – influences our climate and these regional landscapes.

Fire management inadequate to non-existent: ALEC
Firstly, thank you to the 80 or so people who tried to contain fires in Tyerrtye (West Macs National Park).
This devastating fire is a tragedy: Three major burns in 20 years is a repeated tragedy.
I still miss the old corkwood groves east of Hugh River who burnt c. 2001.
Now I think of the places on the Larapinta Trail where we’ve seen and heard moist mulga groves, frog pools, old pythons, ancient Callitris trees, rare plants, persistent possums – have these gone? Are they safe?
The Macs is a biodiversity hot spot with more species than any desert bioregion in Australia. And more cultural sites and songlines too. These fires are comparable with the 2018 Queensland rainforest burns and the current Tasmanian burns.
As a desert ecologist and social scientist, I ask why did this happen in the Macs?
What can we learn and improve upon? Burns will happen again.
To the why – there is climate change and buffel grass fuels.
There is also government priorities, funding and practical on-ground actions.
Parks and Wildlife has been defunded by successive governments to the detriment of landcare and management.
Whereas government funding to short-term tourism ventures like Uluru field of light and Parrtjima have increased. Has funding for Red Centre Nats and Finke desert race also grown?
Each are badged as contributing to a “turbo-charged” economy and do contribute to global warming. The costs to the natural systems that sustain humankind and wildlife are high.
West Macs fires could have been smaller had there been better funding, then sustained strategic prescribed burning by people competent and confident to do so.
25 years ago a cohort of park managers and fire experts burnt regularly with matches and drip torches in mild conditions.
People like Latz, Matthews, the Allans then mentored Schubert, Catt and others. Many of them learnt from and worked with experienced Aboriginal people; some still do. They did protective and preventative burning.
Has this Aboriginal – whitefella culture of burning patches and breaks shifted to one of caution or fear thus inaction?
We know mitigation is easier, safer and cheaper than defence when fires burn.
Action is more important than plans, strategies, workshops or even these words.
Annual investments of several hundred thousand dollars in skilled people who learn and do the practical work of burning in our national parks is vital.

Alice has hottest day on record
What do you do to help yourself, family and others cope with risks from extreme heat?
What strategies are available to people with less money, poorer health, less robust housing, failing air conditioners or scant infrastructure to help them cope?
How do we reduce risks of wildfire and environmental catastrophes?
Our own strategies should be shared and summaries of strategies used elsewhere need to be modified for central Australians.
Climate refugees from Central Australia is a possibility. Some people might have options to migrate to cooler regions. Others don’t.
It is important that the Alice News documents weather stories.  
Weather is the day to day events whose patterns are described as climate. Your readers’ comments (below) about where and when temperatures are recorded are relevant at small scale but understanding the trends is necessary and better actions are vital.
It is the trends that reveal climate change. It is the actions that may help us survive it.
Maximum temperatures are rising and the numbers of hot days in a year are increasing.  
This is evident in many national reports, the regional report with link provided below (publicly available on the CLC site) and the temperature graph included below.
Climate analyses done in 2013 need to be updated with analyses of data from the last five years (since the closure of CSIRO in Alice Springs, this has to be done by others). 
Cumulatively, weather and climate have powerful effects upon the natural and human environments of Central Australia. People and wildlife are and will be greatly stressed by the continuous high temperatures. Let’s expand public discussion about both reductions of emissions and coping strategies.
Mooney, M., F. Walsh, R. Hill, J. Davies, A. Sparrow and Central Land Council Lytentye Apurte Rangers (2014) Climate change: Learning about what is happening with the weather in Central Australia, A3 35 pp report by CSIRO with Central Land Council, Alice Springs Australia.
Thank you.


[ED – The graph below starts in 1943 and ends in 2013.]


Backtrack Boys: lessons in hope and perseverance
This film screens Araleun 7pm tonight. I recommend it for those who feel concern for young people, dogs and better lives. If your work relates to local people or intergenerational connections or ‘youth policy’ then see it. Deservedly, the documentary has won national awards. In some ways it emanates from Central Australia, The title holds a deep meaning that is wisdom learnt from Warumungu men. I hope their families hear the credit given – let them know. The Backtrack program reveals alternatives to costly punishment, detention and jail-dominated approaches.

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