Tasmania's Central Plateau as captured by wilderness photographer Dan Broun. (Dan Broun)
The first images to emerge from within Tasmania's fire-affected World Heritage Area (WHA) have illustrated the level of destruction caused by bushfire, as experts warn such incidents are signs of a changing climate.
The confidential state government files reveal that three days after a lightning strike on December 19 caused a small, half-hectare blaze to begin near Wye River, Victorian fire officials ordered a controlled burn operation which included the dropping of small fireballs from aircraft.
In February 2009 the Black Saturday bushfires swept through the Mountain Ash forests of Victoria, burning 72,000 hectares.
These forests are home to the tallest flowering plants on the planet, and iconic species such as the Leadbeater’s Possum, Victoria’s animal emblem. In the six years since the fires, we and other scientists have been investigating how the forests have recovered, summarised in our new book. This research was in turn built on 25 years of research before the fires.
There’s some good news and some bad. The forests and their inhabitants have a remarkable capacity for recovery from natural disturbances like fire. However, the forest ecosystem is in a precarious state, largely due to the continuation of Victoria’s logging industry.