I don’t know about you, but my wanders in the mountains are often dominated by grief as I see places I love burnt beyond recognition. I’ve spent way too much time looking at burnt forests lately (for instance the Tabletop fire), and the realisation that as I get older, the forests are getting younger has been hard to accept.

More than 90% of snow gum woodland in Victoria has burnt at least once in the last 20 years, and we are down to a fragment of remaining old mountain forests (estimates are that we only have 0.47% of old growth alpine ash left in Victoria). Most people who are paying attention will see what’s going on, and experiencing solastalgia (the distress specifically caused by environmental change and climate change) is both natural and normal. But it can be hard to stay positive in the face of grinding and overwhelming change. And many of us, especially if we live in the bush or mountains, hold fear about the ever more intense fire seasons.

But there is so much wonderful country that remains, and we know that, given time, alpine ash and snow gum forests will recover (if we can keep the fires out until they mature).

I’m trying to take the long view on this. Yes, there is so much we need to do, like stop climate change and change how we deal with fires. But our grand kids will – hopefully – see vast areas of old mountain forests. In the meantime, I’m enjoying some of these spots.