The recent The IPCC WGII Sixth Assessment Report included details about the threat posed by climate change to Snow Gum woodlands (story here). Mountain Journal has been recording the local loss of Snow Gum woodlands across the Australian high country for several years now.
In a welcome sign, the last two summers have been mild and wet, and this has led to reseeding in some previously burnt areas of Snow Gums after years of no growth. However almost every trip to the higher mountains reveals new areas that have been burnt to the point of ecological collapse.
The images below are from the northern end of the Dargo High Plains in Victoria, just south of areas we have previously documented (ABC News story here) and adjacent to the Dargo High Plains road.
The dilemma we face is that climate change is making fire seasons longer and more intense. Mountain forests are burning more frequently. This is leading to localised ecological collapse of these vegetation communities, where grass and shrubs replace what was previous woodland.
We need urgent intervention by the state governments of NSW and Victoria so we can fully understand the scale of the problem, and how to respond to it.
Friends of the Earth has already done work on how we should respond and makes the following suggestions:
The best option if we want to head off this collapse of the Snow Gum communities is to exclude fire as they recover. This will require:
- A rapid ecological assessment of the threats posed by fire and dieback to Snow Gum communities.
- Ongoing funding for Forest Fire Management Victoria, including additional funding for remote area firefighting teams.
- Continued support for air capacity to fight fires, including establishing a publicly owned air fleet, as was recommended by the Bushfire Royal Commission. This is the responsibility of the federal government.
- Creation of volunteer remote area firefighting teams, as NSW, the ACT and Tasmania have done.
- A commitment to ensure we have sufficient fire fighting resources to protect fire sensitive communities like Alpine Ash, Snow Gums, Alpine Peatlands and Rainforest even during summers like 2019/20.
You can add your voice to this proposal here.
Please log images of local loss on this facebook page (including details on where the images are taken) here. Or you can email email@example.com