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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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fire

Slow recovery after Tasmanian fires

Mountain Journal has published a number of stories on the fires that devastated large areas of Tasmania’s high country in 2016. At the time we suggested that the ecological damage would be very long term because of the nature of the high elevation vegetation.

Sadly, that seems to be the case:

The following comes from a news report by the ABC.

A year on from bushfires in Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area (WHA), some areas are showing signs of recovery but others are not.

Ecologist Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick said once alpine flora such as pencil pines were burnt, they died.

“They haven’t got any seed stores, so there’s no seed in the soil and there’s very seldom seed in the trees themselves, so if you burn the stands you’ll often get rid of them for a very long time period,” he said.

“It’s those plants that actually make it a world heritage area because they’re really highly significant scientifically as paleo endemics from the cretaceous period.”

The fires wiped out plants more than 1,000 years old.

Researchers will travel to Lake Mackenzie next month to gather data about how the landscape is faring.

 

Climate change to make TAS fires more intense and more frequent.

Widespread wildfires in early 2016 caused huge damage across large areas of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area, including significant sections of vegetation which is not fire adapted.

Inquiries into the fires were held during 2016, with a senate inquiry recommending the creation of specialist remote area fire fighting capacity.

The question of how much climate change influenced the extent and severity of the fires has been debated at some length, in the media and the inquiry processes.

This article by Emilie Gramenz from the ABC is a further update on the outcome of the process and the need for further research into the links between fire and climate change. A key message from researchers is that “climate change would likely make future fires more intense and more frequent”.

Continue reading “Climate change to make TAS fires more intense and more frequent.”

Greater Alpine National Parks Management Plan released

Parks Victoria has released its blueprint for managing and protecting 900,000 hectares of Victoria’s unique alpine and high country over the next 15 years.

The Greater Alpine National Parks Management Plan aims to protect and enhance the outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values of the parks.

Continue reading “Greater Alpine National Parks Management Plan released”

Senate inquiry into Tasmanian fires calls for creation of a national remote area firefighting team

The report from the Senate Inquiry into the terrible fires that happened in Tasmania last summer has now been released.

The inquiry looked at ‘responses to, and lessons learnt from, the January and February 2016 bushfires in remote Tasmanian wilderness’. The committee was chaired by Greens Senator Nick McKim.

Probably the key recommendation in the report is the proposal that the state and federal governments should investigate the establishment of a national remote area firefighting team. Coalition committee members dissented, saying informal and formal relationships already exist between the state and federal governments and that the Army is also brought in when needed. However the slow pace at which a number of remote area fires were tackled indicates that there was a shortage of fire fighting resources able to be deployed quickly into remote areas. The devastation of areas such as around Lake McKenzie on the Central Plateau was compounded by the delay in getting fire fighting units into the area.

The Coalition MPs on the committee also disagreed with another call in the inquiry report for Australia to report annually to the UNESCO Wilderness World Heritage committee about the state of conservation within the Tasmanian WWHA.

Other issues raised in the report include the need to ensure adequate funding of research into how climate change will influence fires in the world heritage area. For instance, the committee recommends that the Australian Government recognise the need to enhance protection and conservation efforts in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area by allocating increased funding:

  • to the Parks and Wildlife Service, Tasmania, for appropriate management activities and resources; and
  • for research projects aimed at providing qualitative and quantitative data specific to climate-related and ecological threats to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (such as dry lightning strike). It appears that the frequency of dry lightning strikes has already increased in recent decades.

The final report is available here.

Update on the investigation into 2016 Tasmanian bushfires

Last summer saw some of the worst bushfires in Tasmania for decades. Fire services were overwhelmed and large areas of the World Heritage Area were badly burnt before authorities were able to bring the fires under control.

Fires impacted about 20,100 hectares, or 1.3 per cent, of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The worst hit areas included Lake Mackenzie (13,822 hectares), Gordon River Road (3,520 hectares) and Maxwell River South (1,389 hectares).

Continue reading “Update on the investigation into 2016 Tasmanian bushfires”

CFA volunteers call for a halt to this season’s planned burns in Strathbogie Ranges

In a significant move, volunteers with the Country Fire Authority (CFA) in north east Victoria have called for a halt to planned fuel reduction burns in the Strathbogie Ranges. Mountain Journal has previously reported on community calls to halt the burns because of the likely ecological impacts.

Continue reading “CFA volunteers call for a halt to this season’s planned burns in Strathbogie Ranges”

Conservation group calls for immediate stop to burning and logging of Strathbogie forests

Following the hottest ever February on record across the globe, and an extremely hot, dry March in north-east Victoria, Euroa Environment Group has called for an immediate halt to planned burning and logging this year of some of the last stands of mature native forest left in the Strathbogie Ranges.

Continue reading “Conservation group calls for immediate stop to burning and logging of Strathbogie forests”

Monaro dieback brings science and Aboriginal knowledge together

Mountain Journal has previously written about the die back of eucalypts that has been occurring on the Monaro tablelands on the eastern side of the Snowy Mountains.

The dieback has affected a massive area, leaving a sea of “dead, standing trees” across the tablelands.

No one is, as yet, certain about the causes. It has been suggested that climate change is an underlying cause because background warming may have helped the spread of the weevils and stress on the ribbon gum trees that have died.

Continue reading “Monaro dieback brings science and Aboriginal knowledge together”

TAS fires pose threat to high-altitude areas

Lightning strikes lit well over 100 fires across Tasmania in mid January. As of Feb 3, more than 50 are still burning, and there have been significant impacts on townships, especially in the north west and north of the state.

Check here for details on the status of the fires, why they are so destructive, and whether there are links to climate change.

Continue reading “TAS fires pose threat to high-altitude areas”

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