Bushfire on-ground assessments

Heather Campbell
Published 28 Feb 2020 
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Epicormic shoots. Epicormic growth is a special adaptive trait common to most eucalypt species. The foliage grows from dormant buds hidden under thick tree bark.<br/> Epicormic shoots. Epicormic growth is a special adaptive trait common to most eucalypt species. The foliage grows from dormant buds hidden under thick tree bark.
A burnt tree guard in the foreground. Many escaped the same fate, as you can see behind.<br/> A burnt tree guard in the foreground. Many escaped the same fate, as you can see behind.
Fallen trees at Burrin Burrin Reserve showcase the damage caused by the North Black Range fire which burnt through the reserve in December 2019.<br/> Fallen trees at Burrin Burrin Reserve showcase the damage caused by the North Black Range fire which burnt through the reserve in December 2019.
A big old tree burnt in the fires and pushed over in an effort to stop the fire spreading. <br/> A big old tree burnt in the fires and pushed over in an effort to stop the fire spreading.
Staff survey a burnt creekline at Burrin Burrin Reserve. This particular spot is a monitoring site.<br/> Staff survey a burnt creekline at Burrin Burrin Reserve. This particular spot is a monitoring site.
A fern unfurls following the fire. These species are often the first to reshoot and recover as their dense, fibrous trunks make them highly resistant to bushfire.<br/> A fern unfurls following the fire. These species are often the first to reshoot and recover as their dense, fibrous trunks make them highly resistant to bushfire.

It's been a very busy few weeks here at Bush Heritage. I have been out to our bushfire affected reserves in New South Wales to survey the impact alongside our Senior Leadership team, local reserve staff and ecologists.

We arrived a few days after the huge rains that thankfully managed to extinguish the remainder of the fires across the state. It was a sobering walk through the misty morning at Burrin Burrin, a reserve which had not seen fire for more than 60 years. With fires predicted to become more frequent, it won't have the recovery time to regenerate back to the state it was in before, but the species will adapt and come back nonetheless.

Travelling to Scottsdale, it was sad to see the plastic tree guards completely melted by flames and the heat of the fire. Some amazing old growth trees were sadly lost, and the high country, which we'd hoped was protected, was also partially burnt. We have a strong resolve to get back in and start the work to rebuild what we have lost as there is still so much worth protecting. Already we are seeing Scottsdale’s grasses green with well-timed rain and trees responding with basal shoots.

North at Yantabulla Swamp, the land is lying dormant waiting for the next big wet to trigger regrowth of burnt lignum grass and activate the seed bank. Tiny daisies are beginning to push up after some recent rain, and the floods in Queensland are expected to make their way down the Cuttaburra Channel and fill the swamp once more.

While at Yourka in far north Queensland, I gave a whoop of joy when Paul Hales our reserve manager confirmed sightings of Mareeba Rock-wallabies, whose habitat came under threat during the fires.

I hope you find these updates informative and uplifting. I know how much you care about our reserves and the wonderful wildlife who call them home.

Epicormic shoots. Epicormic growth is a special adaptive trait common to most eucalypt species. The foliage grows from dormant buds hidden under thick tree bark.<br/> Epicormic shoots. Epicormic growth is a special adaptive trait common to most eucalypt species. The foliage grows from dormant buds hidden under thick tree bark.
A burnt tree guard in the foreground. Many escaped the same fate, as you can see behind.<br/> A burnt tree guard in the foreground. Many escaped the same fate, as you can see behind.
Fallen trees at Burrin Burrin Reserve showcase the damage caused by the North Black Range fire which burnt through the reserve in December 2019.<br/> Fallen trees at Burrin Burrin Reserve showcase the damage caused by the North Black Range fire which burnt through the reserve in December 2019.
A big old tree burnt in the fires and pushed over in an effort to stop the fire spreading. <br/> A big old tree burnt in the fires and pushed over in an effort to stop the fire spreading.
Staff survey a burnt creekline at Burrin Burrin Reserve. This particular spot is a monitoring site.<br/> Staff survey a burnt creekline at Burrin Burrin Reserve. This particular spot is a monitoring site.
A fern unfurls following the fire. These species are often the first to reshoot and recover as their dense, fibrous trunks make them highly resistant to bushfire.<br/> A fern unfurls following the fire. These species are often the first to reshoot and recover as their dense, fibrous trunks make them highly resistant to bushfire.