You may think that a ferocious bushfire destroys everything in its path. At least that is how they are portrayed in the media. In many ways this can be true, not the least of which is when bushfires interact with human infrastructure and lives. Despite this, Australia is a continent that had life evolve with bushfires as a given. Life here doesn’t suffer the bushfires, it takes opportunity in it.
In early 2016 the Waroona Bushfires swept through an area the size of the greater Perth metropolitan area. It destroyed over a hundred houses, including most of the town of Yarloop. This is the second of a series of posts showing the after effects, in particular the regrowth.
Close to Forrest highway is a completely burnt out area of bushland that was reduced to nothing but sand, ash, and black sticks poking out of the ground. Years and years of fire suppression had left it badly over grown. When the fire came through here the fuel load meant that it burned hot enought to kill trees that depended on fire as part of it’s reproductive cycle.
Six months later, the whole area is covered in lush green moss and long grasses. What was black sticks poking out of the ground have either sprouted green shoots or have proven dead. Under the layer of moss is inches worth of pitch black ash, a wonderful medium for life to once again take root.
When I returned home after having evacuated the fires it took several months for some of these areas to cool off. The extraordinary thick top soil was still burning underground, releasing plumes of smoke growing to billowing clouds when combined with early morning dew.
In the image below you can see the pine forest on the hill in the distance. The pine forest was completely killed in the fire. It has not started to grow back.
The paperbark trees are designed for fire. The layers upon layers of bark flash burn, having the effect of destorying surrounding plants and trees but also moving the fire on before it has had much of a chance to affect the trunk and branches.
The grass trees are indiscernable now from how they appeared before the fires. They are a species that thrive in a bush fire. It only takes a matter of weeks for the green to return to them.
Check out the aftermath of the Waroona Bushfire page from the link below;