The experts are unequivocal – the unprecedented ferocity of this bushfire crisis is driven by climate change. Burning polluting fuels like coal, and clearing carbon-dense forests and woodlands, have damaged our climate making fire conditions ever-more dangerous.
Severe drought, very dry vegetation and soils, strong winds and record-breaking heat are driven by climate damage and all contribute to worsening conditions for bushfires. Even rainforests that are normally too wet to burn have dried out and burned for the first time on record.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people use fire and other methods to manage country, but since European colonisation governments have prevented many First Nations communities from continuing their highly sophisticated land management. Whilst traditional land management has continued in some regions, most of the communities affected by this bushfire crisis have had limited management by First Nations people for well over a century. This is beginning to change, however, with successful Aboriginal fire and land management programs now in place in more places around Australia.
Changes in land management combined with climate damage means the risks from bushfires on people, property and wildlife is higher than ever before.