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NPAACT Home > News Items > NPWS condemns farmers claims as offensive

NPWS condemns farmers claims as offensive


The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has described claims by NSW Farmers that it does not fight fires vigorously enough as “offensive” and said they fail to recognise the dedication of NPWS staff who work extremely hard on the firefighting front line to protect the community.
NPWS Chief, Dr Tony Fleming, said today that the claim was ill-informed and not supported by the facts.

“I am very disappointed by the claim and am frankly getting tired of the continual sniping from the sidelines by people who are not held to account for their claims which are generally made without a shred of evidence,” Dr Fleming said.

“The facts tell a different story. In this past bushfire season 70% of national park fires were kept to below ten hectares . Another 20% were between 10 and 100 hectares.

“During this time only 3% of fires grew larger than 1000ha and these were managed by the NPWS in close cooperation with the NSW Rural Fire Service and other agencies. 

“Our success in quickly containing the vast majority of fires is largely due to the skills of our 550 strong remote area firefighting team. The NPWS pioneered the approach of using helicopters to get specially trained crews into remote areas so they can avert disasters by putting the fires out before they have a chance to make a run.

“NPWS remote area teams are of world renown and their expertise is often called in to assist in fighting fires in other countries.

“If anyone has any doubts about the hard work of national parks firefighters I’d challenge them to put on a 10kg pack, get helicoptered into to a rugged and inhospitable landscape in 40degree heat for 12 hours, three days straight, using chainsaws, picks and sheer grunt to clear firebreaks and fight fires.

“NSW Farmers’ obsession with NPWS fire management is surprising given the fact that national park fires generally constitute a small fraction of the total number in NSW each year.

“In 2005-06 five per cent of the State’s fires were in national parks.

“Despite this the NPWS is carrying out on average almost half the State’s total hazard reduction burning while managing eight percent of the State, half of which is not considered a fire risk.

“Statistically twice as many bushfires enter national parks than those that leave national park and this has been the case for at least the last 20 years.

“This week NSW Farmers issued a public statement claiming the NPWS does not maintain fire trails. This is simply not true and we are tried of this myth being allowed to perpetuate.

“The NPWS maintains a 10,000 kilometre fire trail network, conducts regular hazard reduction burning, works closely with local fire authorities and has an active and dedicated fire management team.

“The NPWS has grown heartily tired of the constant harassment by NSW Farmers and demand that they put up or shut up.

“They also need to be reminded the NPWS is engaged in a very cooperative and amicable relationship with the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and other agencies that is positive and focused on protecting the community against fire,” Dr Fleming said.



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