An open letter to the Queensland and Australian Governments
Request for ongoing funding of North Australia Fire Information Website (www.firenorth.org.au)
I am writing on behalf of all attendees at the 2019 Cape York Regional Fire Forum, to request your support for the future of the North Australia Fire Information (NAFI) website. Nearly 100 participants at the Forum, representing Indigenous land managers, pastoralists, conservation managers, carbon industry and agency staff, unanimously voted to request that the Queensland and Australian Governments provide funding to ensure that this vital service continues.
In 2004, land managers across Northern Australia began to manage and control the spread of fires using information provided through the North Australia Fire Information (NAFI) website. This revolutionary technology meant that land managers including National Park rangers, pastoralists, Indigenous land managers and industries such as mining, could monitor fires through an interactive map. For the first time land managers could access the fire history for their properties and real time information on current fires. The value of this information to people living and working in remote northern Australia cannot be overstated.
Access to information through the NAFI website is providing clear environmental, economic and social benefits. Climatic patterns have changed, seasons are unpredictable, and people have been travelling across northern Australia more than ever before. The risk of uncontrolled wildfires is increasing, and sadly the most recent fire season is demonstration of this. The NAFI website allows land managers to protect vegetation and infrastructure, and to plan and coordinate their activities with others to improve property and regional fire regimes.
Properties with carbon projects rely on the NAFI website to assist with planning and reporting cool seasonal burns. These projects provide significant financial benefit to landholders and reducing late season wildfires is providing environmental outcomes. Without the NAFI website a critical tool in the generation of Australian Carbon Credit Units will be lost and land managers will lose the ability to successfully contribute to Australia’s greenhouse gas reductions.
While we commend the Australian Government for their support of the fire scar mapping, we urge both the Queensland and Australian Governments to extend this support to the NAFI website, which is the critical tool through which all land managers in the North access fire data. Please do not let the NAFI website fail at a time when it is needed the most.
Chairperson, Cape York NRM