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New housing should not be encouraged in areas surrounded by natural vegetation

The devastating bushfires impacted Victoria in February, 2009, killing 209 people, injuring hundreds of people and destroying thousands of homes. As a result, it has raised many serious questions and suggestions, about people whether or not to build new housing and live in areas surrounded by bush and natural vegetation. However, some people still want to build new housing in areas surrounded by natural vegetation because they enjoy living in the natural lifestyle in this kind of location. Other people want to make their houses more natural in area surrounded by bush and natural vegetation. On the other hand, according to the Government of Victorias Country Fire Authority (2008, 14), people live in bushy area can possibly have several days every summer, their lives and properties may be threatened by fire. Therefore, new housing should not be built in a bushy location because of bushfire high risk, threat to the habitat of native animals and plants, and isolation from community facilities and services.

It has been argued that new housing can safely be built in area surrounded by natural vegetation with the new regulation of residential building design, upgrading the level fire standard of homes to minimise the damage from bushfire and preparing the property for bushfire (Samantha 2009, 1; Debra 2009, 1). In other words, they need to improve the construction on their houses with better equipment to withstand the effects of bushfires because they build new housing a high bush fire prone area (Building Commission 2009, 3). According to the Government of Victorias Country Fire Authority (2008, 14), people can create a dependable space by managing the natural vegetation around their house, modifying their houses and purchasing firefighting equipment and personal protective clothing.

Moreover, it is possible to have new residential building design and regulation with better fire standard for new housing development in bush fires prone area, which means that the government can safely redesign the house and residential building construction with higher level standard of protection for human safety and property to reduce risk of damage from bush fires in the future (Building Commission 2009, 12). Although these suggestions are valid, it may significantly need some extra cost to improve all these houses in order to reduce the risk to them from bushfires. Furthermore, the new residential building design and regulation is not a guarantee that is able to reduce and eliminate the risk of bushfire (Building Commission 2009, 3). In other words, it does not remove the disaster which is associated with bushfires but it can only become the encouragement for people in the future.

Firstly, the most important reason not to encourage people to build new housing in areas surrounded by natural vegetation is because there is a high risk of bushfire. Living in the bushland areas has a high level risk of extreme fire danger (Government of Victorias Country Fire Authority 2008, 3), therefore people should not be encouraged live in this location. According to Santoni et al. (2006, 2), all the plants can provide fuel for bushfires. For example, Australia has a high level risk of bushfire because fires frequently occurs a hundred fires every year which can vary in range measures (Fabiene 2009, 1). Wind and vegetation effects on fire behaviour which are mainly responsible of the hazards encountered in forest fires ( Santoni et al. (2006, 2). When the fire happens in such an extreme situation some people cannot go anywhere because there can be a lot of smoke in the area and road travel becomes dangerous. There can be a lot of fallen trees, power line poles and abandoned cars and even the fire fighting vehicles may block the roads. Furthermore, some people may not have enough time to leave the area safely and may not know which

direction the fire is spreading as fire can vary in range measures (Fabiene 2009, 1.). Furthermore the wind can pushes the flames forward into unburnt fuel. In fact, wind can influence a significant role in damaging a building, according to Santoni et al. (2006, 9; CFA, 4), the higher wind speed, the higher combustion efficiency and the bigger heat released by the flame. Furthermore, an extreme bushfire attack area has the same risk to another area that has extreme risk from tsunami, flooding, landslide, cyclone or earthquake (Australian Government 2009, 1). Therefore, people should never live in the areas where there is an extreme fire risk as the result will always be loss of lives and unnecessary destructions.

Secondly, new housing developments in bushy areas can threaten eco-system of the natural habitat. As a result animals and plants can become threatened because of their habitat loss and change caused by housing development. As mentioned by Kim et al. (2008, 2), native plants are a foundation of ecological health and function. According to Heiko (2008, 1), native plants have a potential responsibility to maintain cities more sustainable and reduce carbon emissions. Housing developments, road access and other infratructure associated with housing developments have an impact on natural habitats and as a result can reduce the chances of animal and plan surviving. For example, some species and their natural habitats are affected when natural vegetation is cleared for uses of new housing development and roads access. New housing development can also impact on water resources and destroy the entire river ecosystem. For example, in some developed countries rivers are dammed to store water in order to supply water need for housing development and swamps are drained for developments (Marcus 2008, 1). As a result, water flows are inadequate for the maintenance of native species. In addition, water sewage also leading to an increase in the

rate of supply of organic nutrient needed for animals and plants. For example, some native plants are food resources for some native animal such as koalas, cows, sheeps, rabbits or goats and this may threaten their survival. In some cases, living in natural vegetation means sharing place and interacting with native wild animals such as a specific species that can cause serious problem on peoples properties damage and lives such as attacking, injuring even killing people (Heidi et al. 2009, 114). For example, poisonous snakes and insects such as spiders, bees, and mosquitos can come into residential area and may have significant harmful impacts for the people who want live with the natural lifestyle.

Finally, areas surrounded by natural vegetation are often isolated from essential public facilities such as schools, universities, shops, community and health service. In Australia rural areas are generally located far from urban areas. This significant distance between rural and urban area can result in the rural area, being geographically isolated from essential services and community services (YAPA 2005, 79). As a result, living in natural rural areas may cost more for petrol, very time consuming and demanding on family lifestyle. Living in rural areas can also have limited access to community facilities and services which mean that living in rural area can involve extra time and expense in travelling to workplace, schools, commercial and recreational activities. For example, parents may need to drive their children to the nearest school. Moreover, rural areas have extremely limited public transport with limited routes and times therefore people who do not have driving license and access to a car are depending on others, such as friend and family for transport (YAPA 2005, 80). Other public services such as community and health services are very limited in rural area that can make difficult for local people to get medical helps and services.

In conclusion, there area some factors that people should consider not to build a new housing surrounded by natural vegetation, including bushfire prone environment, threat to eco-system of native animals and plants, and isolation from community facilities and services. Improving new residential building code for the new housing development in bushfire prone area with higher standard of protection for human safety and property is not a guarantee to reduce risk of devastating bushfires in the future (Building Commission 2009, 3). As long as people continue to live in close proximity to the natural vegetation, houses and lives can unfortunately continue to be lost. Hence, people need to consider spending a lot of extra money to improve all these houses with equipment in order to reduce the risk of bushfire.