Living Next Door to the Bush.
Eco Living Magazine presents:
Living next door to the bush.
With the ramifications of the horrendous Victorian bush fires still traumatising all levels of the Australian community, it asks fundamental questions of our lifestyles and where we live. Should we be building houses on the edge of bushland? Is it safe to be living next door to the bush? Are these communities on the outer edges of our big cities – towns or satellite suburbs? Do they have the necessary services to protect themselves and are we letting developers profit too early in the creation of these hamlets? What should we be looking at and planning for, before we rebuild these houses and homes?
Has a tragedy exposed a flaw in our town planning or the lack of it? Is it the case that we have city people, who have had little or no experience of living in the bush, suddenly facing a natural disaster of extreme magnitude but not uncommon in its cyclical appearances, as seen by Ash Wednesday and Black Friday before? Australia is a continent, which experiences seasonal extreme heat and we have vast tracts of dry bushland. Bushland that is widely populated with the brittle and structurally unpredicatable Gum Tree. Fire has a long history in our bushland, with indigenous Australians utilising fire in their land management and hunting practices. Have we become too sentimental about nature in our desire to conserve and protect flora and fauna? This terrible tragedy of never before seen proportions has shocked Australians at all stratas of society. Stunned governments at state, federal and of course local levels, about what to do and what they could have done to prevent it.
There has been an enormous outpouring of compassion around the nation and great generosity, in uncertain financial times, to help stem the suffering that these people have endured. But before we rebuild these houses and small communities lets ask a few important questions about how and where we live. The bush is a fundamentally unregulated place, that is why it is called the bush, and if families are going to live on its edges then they need to be protected. A growing awareness of the dangers of living next door to national park lands has of course already begun. With the government’s recent reluctance to back burn and clear land, because of fears of contributing to drought conditions, coinciding with a prolonged extreme heat wave to produce a well fueled national disaster. How do we fire proof these communities living on the edge in the future?
I think we will see far greater regulatory conditions prescribing where people can live and what needs to be in place before communities can arise. The bush will be treated with a lot more respect and not simply seen as some benign sanctuary. Australia’s sentimental relationship with the bush might undergo a few home truths. Most of us live on the coast in big cities for a reason – the bush is a tough place to live. Beautiful but unpredictable and wildly savage at certain times. This is another example where intelligent government intervention is called for and where the bar needs to be raised for property developers who ply their trade on the outer reaches of bushland.
©Eco Living Magazine.
Posted on February 15, 2009, in Latest Blog, News and tagged Australian bush, Australian tragedy, bushfires, bushland, communities at risk, homes, houses, natural disaster, property developers, sudha hamilton, town planning, tragedy, Victorian bushfires. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.