Visiting a blistered landscape

I drove over the fire-fried country between East Gippsland and the North East in early August, six months after the summer fires, with Kevin Thiele, EEG’s Public Officer, Botanist and Computer Trouble Shooter.

The worst effected areas were very sorry looking – miles and miles of grey burnt earth, unidentifiable understorey-that-was, black trunks and bare gullies with much silt wash. It was a stark landscape of skeletal trunks, exposed and sterilised soil right to rivers’ edges. All the same, Nature’s a tough one, and almost all the trees were starting to coppice and send out epicormic shoots. There wasn’t much life on the ground, but maybe that will come with warmer weather.

Further up towards the snow line, the fire had been patchier, leaving maybe 90% of tree heads intact. The extra hot patches could be seen on some slopes where the fire had raced up and crowned, burning hot and wiping out the ground cover to show bare earth below. Gullies, wetter slopes and possibly areas that were burnt at night, seemed to have withstood the fire much better. Hopefully these are the forests that will have been the refuge for much wildlife.

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