It is worth going back to a report from 2020 that shows the impacts of fire in Victoria. Most of the area burned in the summer of 2019/20 is in mixed-species eucalypt forests, which are common throughout eastern Victoria, and which can recover well from fire.
But the fires also burnt forest types of more limited distribution including banksia woodlands, warm temperate rainforests, and mountain communities including alpine ash forests and snow gum woodlands.
Climate change is making fire seasons longer and more intense and so areas are burning more frequently. Some species, like snow gum, re-sprout solely from the lignotuber because their stems are usually killed by fire. The proportion of snow gum trees killed outright by fire increased to 50 per cent after three high-severity fires in 2003, 2007 and 2013. The researchers note that here was also a decrease in tree regeneration from seed.
The intensity and the frequency of fires has a big impact on the post-fire recovery of tree populations.
The researchers say that practices that reduce the extent and frequency of severe bushfires in coming years will improve the overall chances of tree survival and population recovery.
This will involve continued efforts to reduce bushfire ignitions, and to quickly suppress uncontrolled fires on extreme fire days.
While this work is now 2 years old, it does highlight the fact that we need to be able to keep fire out of fire sensitive communities as they recover from previous burns. In the case of Snow Gums,
- we need extra capacity to exclude fire from Snow Gum forests. This means ground and air firefighting capacity to ensure aggressive First Strike firefighting designed to stop small fires caused by lightning strikes from turning into blazes that can’t be controlled
- we need an ecological assessment of the health of these communities to determine if further intervention is needed, for instance as is being done with Alpine Ash.
Please consider supporting the campaign which is urging the VIC government to act to protect mountain forests. Support the call for additional firefighting resources to fight fires in national parks in Victoria by signing this letter to the Victorian Environment Minister.
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