OUR collective hearts go out to the people of Australia who have been devastated by those terrible fires that have ravaged that vast country. It is unimaginable to most of us of what they have gone through and especially for the farmers who have lost crops, livestock and probably, sadly for many of them, their livelihood.

Stories of heroism, unlikely saviours and general good old Aussie resilience has been shining through the gloom and the tears.

What is also emerging, though, is slightly more sinister and may have some parallels in the UK. Politicians in Australia are increasingly being led by the nose by the 'greens' and in recent years, the accepted convention of reducing fuel loads and introducing fire-breaks in known tinderbox areas – when it has been safe to do so – has been demonised.

Allegations are now surfacing that had these practices continued – many of them championed and used to good effect by indigenous people for many generations – then the wildfires at the end of 2019 and into the early part of 2020 would never had been the conflagration they became.

Ironically and tragically, the green movement's opposition to controlled burning was that it was bad for flora and fauna. However, what is now evident is that by reducing active land management, either by a lack of government funding, or by banning those with long-term experience from doing it, actually has had the opposite effect.

We can only watch and weep at the damage that these policies have now caused. The current situation has shown just how dangerous it can be to eschew accepted and practical means of bushfire control, however harsh it may seem at the time.

Active land management, such as hazard-reduction burning and forest thinning, lie at the core of controlling bushfire spread, making suppression easier by reducing the amount of flammable material. Of all the factors driving a fire’s severity – temperature, wind speed, topography, fuel moisture and fuel load – fuel load is the only one that humans can influence.

Likewise, in this country, we have keyboard jockeys who would stop the practice of muirburn, take away the right to active land management and to 're-wild' many of Scotland's most scenic areas.

Maybe this is a wake up call for our politicians to listen to the people who have nurtured and cared for the land to make it what it is. Largely, that boils down to keeping it as a land worth preserving and actively management is one of the main pillars of allowing that. As any hill manager will tell you, the selective use of controlled burning (as in muirburn) and in some cases grazing with livestock, can reduce the severity of wild fires – re-wilding simply creates a larger fuel load of leggy heather and dead bracken.

Without actively managing what we have, we will, like those poor people in Australia, be left with nothing but the burning fragments of tree stumps and a land devoid of any living thing.