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‘Dinosaur trees’ survived Black Summer, but they haven’t recovered enough for the next bushfire

Bellin Mackenzie, a member of the fire brigade and one of the ecologists who led the post-fire investigation, said that most of the fires were due to “extraordinary efforts” by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Local Fire Department. He said he definitely prevented him from reaching his canopy. wood.

“We definitely sighed in relief,” Mackenzie said. “It was a great sign that they would recover.”

However, concerns are about the condition of seedlings and small seedlings, with most trees shorter than 8 meters showing 100 percent canopy charring. Laboratory tests have shown that small plants recover from fire, but many of them have not yet recovered in the wild.

Only 2 percent of the plants between 5 and 2 meters began to regerminate.

Burnt canopy under the Waremi pine that matured during the wildfire last summer.credit:John Spencer / NPWS

“We expect them to be capable of re-sprouting,” Mackenzie said. “So far, few re-growths have been observed.”

Mackenzie warned that it is too early to declare that one-third of the unrecovered seedlings are dead because the pine trees have emerged from the drought and their growth patterns are seasonal.

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With only four Wollemi pine trees in a small area deep inside Wollemi National Park, ancient species remain as vulnerable to severe wildfires as last summer.

Mackenzie, who estimates that he has visited the site 20 times since the fire, first aired some of his findings at the Australian Ecological Society’s annual conference late last year. The study was submitted for peer review and publication.

Berin Mackenzie (left) was part of a team that successfully preserved the rare Wollemi pine tree in Wollemi National Park during the 2019-20 wildfire. Some others include Lisa Menke (second from left), Steve Clark, and Tony Old (right).

Berin Mackenzie (left) was part of a team that successfully preserved the rare Wollemi pine tree in Wollemi National Park during the 2019-20 wildfire. Some others include Lisa Menke (second from left), Steve Clark, and Tony Old (right). credit:Johnny Barrett

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He risks that thicket plants and saplings do not reach the so-called minimum escape height to avoid complete canopy loss before the next fire, given the slow growth rate of the plants. Said.

In fact, Matsu may need decades of fire-free intervals to recover, join, and sustain after a fire, Mackenzie told the rally.

“This presents a significant challenge for conservation managers in the current climate, where wildfires are expected to increase in frequency and severity,” he said.

Chris Black, an emeritus professor at the Australian National University who studied pine trees, said the fire damage to the seedlings was “worse than I believed.”

Professor Black said the ad hoc watering system that Mackenzie and his colleagues had set up to weaken the conditions to save the trees might need to be more permanent equipment.

“They didn’t get that water supply system well in advance. [of the fires]..Was so [case of] “Well, we have to do something very quickly,” he said. “Very brave national park workers did it almost in front of the fire.”

Wallemi pine begins to recover by coppicing or re-sprouting.

Wallemi pine begins to recover by coppicing or re-sprouting.credit:Bellin Mackenzie / DPIE

“Once we know the problem has been resolved, if we look a little further and the water continues to flow through the stream, they may be able to put a better system there,” Black said.

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McKenzie said he showed what could be an important deployment of sprinklers, hydrogen bomb helicopters, flame retardant use, and remote firefighters after the front had passed.

“I can say with great confidence [those firefighters] “We saved trees,” he added. “This is the first such large-scale effort in the world to protect important biodiversity assets during a national crisis.”

Rachel Gallagher, a researcher at Macquarie University, said it’s not surprising that plants take time to recover.

One of the first Wallemipine saplings to emerge after the fire.

One of the first Wallemipine saplings to emerge after the fire. credit:Bellin Mackenzie / DPIE

She said wildfires also affected many plants, with more than 250 species accounting for more than 80% of the range of burnout in last summer’s fires.

Many of them will suffer, especially in the future, in the event of multiple fires, not only due to climate change, but also by increasing open burning to reduce danger.

“This is not just this one fire event, but the cumulative effects of improper fire regimes on the species will drive the species to extinction,” Dr. Gallagher said.

Heroic fire fighting managed to limit the damage caused by wildfires last summer, but the impact was still significant.

Heroic fire fighting managed to limit the damage caused by wildfires last summer, but the impact was still significant.

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Peter Hannam writes about the environmental issues of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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‘Dinosaur trees’ survived Black Summer, but they haven’t recovered enough for the next bushfire Source link ‘Dinosaur trees’ survived Black Summer, but they haven’t recovered enough for the next bushfire

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