Indigenous ranger groups in north-west Australia might be forced to stop their bushfire mitigation work at the end of June because they cannot afford the soaring fire insurance premiums in the region.
The Kimberley Land Council (KLC) works with indigenous ranger groups that perform fire mitigation across north-west Australia. ABC reported KLC land and sea unit manager Will Durack as saying: “We are still talking about sums of money that are not figures that we can finance.
“For local people in the Kimberley, for the broader WA community, and then for the nation, the service that is provided is essential.”
Durack explained that fire mitigation comes with inherent but manageable risks. Therefore, taking out public liability insurance is essential.
“If we've got insurance, it won't pose an issue. We will continue to do our jobs, and our job in the dry season is suppression, is putting people into country to put out fire. [But] if we burn something down and we don't have insurance, then we bankrupt the organisation,” he continued.
Durack warned about the consequences if indigenous ranger groups cannot continue with their work, including higher risk of unmanaged fires that could pose greater problems to the environment and the region's economy.
“By us putting in fire early in the dry season, you mitigate against that large, uncontrolled fire. So, people are at risk. People's lives will be at risk of large, uncontrolled fires as we've seen in other places,” he continued.
“Without running an early season program, we will change the landscape. You will burn it too often and too hot. A lot of the work we do protects against late-season fire running into pastoral properties, so [there would be] significant economic impact.”