'They are incinerators from hell': Biologist blames GUM TREES for Australia's brutal bushfire season - and says they should be banned anywhere near human settlements
I really like our native gum trees and would oppose any attack on them but there is undoubtedly some truth in the colorful claim below. They do burn easily.
It is irrelevant, however. Fuel reduction will prevent the fires regardless of which trees the fuel comes from. Fuel reduction is the Holy Grail. With it, there CAN be no big fires. Anything else is passing the buck
A prominent Australian biologist has blamed the country's bushfires on gum trees, labelling them 'incinerators from hell dressed up as trees'.
Also known as eucalyptus trees, gum trees are native to every Australian state and their leaves make up most of the diet of koalas and some possum species.
Despite being a source of food for iconic native animals, biologist Jeremy Griffith attributed Australia's current bushfire crisis to the widespread tree on Saturday.
The biologist, who is also an author, even went as far to say that people should be banned from growing eucalyptus trees anywhere near human settlements.
'Humans can't live near them, and they are an extremely dangerous habitat for wildlife,' Mr Griffith wrote in The Spectator.
Australia's current bushfire season has claimed the lives of 28 people and an estimated one billion animals so far.
Mr Griffith explained eucalyptus trees actively encourage bushfires as their waxy and oily leaves are very flammable.
In addition, he said gum trees have epicormic buds hidden under their bark that are protected from flames and allow them quickly sprout back after bushfires.
'Eucalypts can survive an intense fire when few other species can; and since they can survive fire they can afford to encourage fire because it will eliminate competition from other species,' Mr Griffith said.
He pointed out that gum trees heavily shed leaves and peeling bark, which he believes is in order to generate tinder for fires.
Mr Griffith likened gum trees to 'dangerous crocodiles planted tail-down ready to destroy lives and our world'.
'There has to be a complete change of mindset when thinking about eucalypts that recognises their true nature. The stark reality is there should be legislation in Australia preventing eucalypts from growing in quantity near people,' he said.
The biologist said there needs to be more regular hazard reduction burns in eucalypt forests, like those practiced by Indigenous Australians thousands of years before British settlement.
He explained that because Indigenous Australians would start small fires regularly, the intensity of fires would decrease, which would allow for safe fires in the summer.
Mr Griffith warned of the dangers that eucalyptus trees pose in other parts of the world where they have been introduced, such as California. [And China]
Australian gold miners introduced gum trees to California in the 1850s before the local state government began encouraging their plantation in the early 1900s.
During the Oakland firestorm in 1991, it is estimated that 70 per cent of the energy released from blazes was through eucalyptus trees.
In California, which has similar dry conditions to Australia, wildfires are a yearly occurrence and recently took the lives of five people in 2019.
Australia's current bushfire season arrived early in October 2019. So far, a total of 28 people have died in the horror blazes and more than 2,000 homes have been destroyed.