In 2016 and 2019, large areas of Tasmania were burnt by wild fires, including vegetation that is normally too moist to burn. Last year it happened in rainforests on the Lamington Tablelands in south east Queensland. It is a highly unusual event for these areas to burn, but one that appears to be occurring more frequently in recent times. Now the same thing is happening in northern New South Wales.
This loss and destruction of ancient fire sensitive ecosystems is heartbreaking. Sending much love and solidarity to our friends in the North who are facing these terrible fires.
As Dailan Pugh wrote recently in the Sydney Morning Herald,
The rainforests of Northern NSW are ‘a remnant from 20 million years ago when rainforests once covered the whole of Australia. As the continent became drier the rainforest retreated to refugia, places where they could survive as the fire-tolerant eucalypts evolved to take advantage of the changing climate’.
‘This week the rainforests of the Terania Creek basin burned. The understory was consumed, though thankfully the fire did not spread to the canopy. It will take a while before the full impacts of the fire’s heat on surviving trees become apparent as many are likely to have been cooked.
The surrounding old-growth forests were not so fortunate, with trees many hundreds of years old consumed by fire.
With fires in the World Heritage-listed rainforests of Lamington, Mount Hyland and now Terania Creek, this season has proven that in this changing climate rainforest is no longer immune from burning.As temperatures rise and spring becomes drier the moist refugia are evaporating. This will force a total rethink of fire management as wet gullies and rainforest can no longer be relied upon to act as natural firebreaks”.
This report published on The Guardian website explains what is happening in the rainforests of the Northern Rivers region.
‘In Terania Creek, near the Nightcap national park, Terri Nicholson spent Sunday watching fires move into private property on the western side of the valley and start heading south. Many residents in the immediate vicinity of multiple fires had been evacuated to The Channon, the nearest town.
Nicholson’s parents are Nan and Hugh Nicholson. Forty years ago they hosted the blockade that ultimately stopped logging of the rainforest near their property and saved rainforest in other parts of NSW.
“Nan and Hugh Nicholson hosted the site of the Terania protest to defend this great rainforest from logging and now we’re here defending it due to the effects of climate change,” Nicholson said from her parents’ property.
“I don’t even have the words right now. It’s just gobsmacking and distressing to witness.”
Nicholson said residents were preparing for conditions to worsen over the next few days.
“We’re seeing rainforest burn. There’s fire threatening our houses right now,” Nicholson said.
“There’s fire trucks, volunteers. The local fire service is incredible, they’re protecting our home. This is the home I grew up in. My childhood home. My parents’ land.
“It’s quite intense to see ancient, iconic rainforest burn – this delicate ecosystem – and see firefighters here risking their lives and just to see global heating in action.”