Geoff has just returned to Zaytuna Farm after three months of consultancies and international aid work. Australia has been ravaged by bushfires, which have consumed over 6.3 million hectares. People have lost their lives, properties have been destroyed, and half a billion animals have perished. Summer hasn’t even reached the halfway point, and already these fires are amongst the most intense and extensive ever seen. Nearby Nightcap National Park has been burning since November.
Still, Zaytuna Farm isn’t yet in danger. The fire department has done well holding the spreading fires at bay, though the extended drought, hotter and longer (12 months) than most, has made it all worse. The boundary creek at Zaytuna has dried to a trickle. But, Geoff notes that these environmental issues are “the reason we do what we do.” It is possible to drought-proof a property and make it more fire-resistant.
Geoff offers up his top five techniques for protecting a property from fire:
- Capture all of your rainwater from roofs and store it in tanks, always with a full tank at the top of the property. Be sure to put the pipes underground so they can’t be damaged by fire.
- Create head-pressure. Install a dam or pond as high as possible on the property. This allows a large amount of water to be gravity-fed to places that might need it.
- Keep open areas grazed low and cultivate them with perennial plants that are good for animal forage. These areas should be kept low to prevent spreading grassfires.
- Use soil as the main water storage. Earthworks like swales can hydrate the landscape and foster tree growth, particularly with fire-resistant species like fruit trees. Design hard surface runoff to be captured and stored on or infiltrated into the site, keeping vegetation lush and healthy.
- Plant fire-resistant species to buffer your property.
To learn more about permaculture watch Geoff’s Permaculture Masterclass, a 4-part documentary-style film, here: https://www.discoverpermaculture.com/a/12454/e3i2ci3L.
Editors note: since filming this video Zaytuna Farm has received over 150ml of rain, and the fire in the Nightcap National park has been extinguished.
If you would like to donate, we recommend a direct donation to the Rural Fire Service to support local brigades. Bushfire affected areas include the following:
New South Wales (NSW): https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/volunteer/support-your-local-brigade
Queensland (QLD): https://www.rfbaq.org/donate-to-rfbaq
Victoria (VIC): https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/supporting-cfa
South Australia (SA): https://cfsfoundation.org.au/donate