Saturday, September 5, 2015


 World Heritage Springbrook National Park burned by National Parks Queensland

The ABC News 21 August 2015 11:00am told of the application being made to UNESCO to have the Owen Stanley Range in New Guinea listed as World Heritage. The argument was that such a listing would ‘preserve the natural qualities of the region.’

The burning of the World Heritage National Park by National Parks Queensland
Apparently this was to be 'a one metre high burn'
Photograph by Greg Kernagan

The burnt area seen from the Canyon Lookout

The walk through the ashes

The recent activity by the National Parks rangers at Springbrook National Park in Queensland, an area that is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, seems to suggest otherwise. The rangers have transformed beautiful rocky heath areas into a mass of black and grey ash. They argue that it is a ‘controlled burn.’ But why should World Heritage areas be burned? What particular ‘natural quality’ is being preserved? What diversity is being enhanced?

Only shades of grey diversity remain

A new path was cut through the World Heritage bushland to provide access for the burning

Indeed, what particular qualities are being lost? In a region in which new species are regularly being discovered, how do the rangers know that no unknown species of flora or fauna is being destroyed? This is an area listed for its biodiversity. Why destroy this? Why burn for the benefit of the heath alone, as has been argued, when the ecosystem is much more varied and complex than any singular concern for the health and prosperity of just one species of flora might suggest?

'Offending' World Heritage bushland had to be burned?

'After' on the left; 'before' on the right

Why fight for one species at the cost of all others? These fires are being promoted and managed by rangers who seem to be more bush handymen than environmental scientists, yet they choose to promote burning as though they know all. They even, so it appears, know better than nature.

The shrubs, grasses, mosses, orchids and lichen were all destroyed

Let’s hope that the Owen Stanley Range fares better than this.

World Heritage scar: scare!

World Heritage bald rocks, ashes and charred branches

The charred World Heritage remains

The aftermath

All photographs not accredited are by the author

Lest we forget
Surely World Heritage deserves better than this?