Out of the ash

The asset protection burn conducted at Quartz Hill Chewton in late November has, as planned, produced a pretty bare landscape over about 140 hectares, plus what looks like some spotting outside the planned zone.

One reason to visit these burns is to observe how the landscape responds to them. And one indicator of burn severity seems to be outbreaks of the fungus Pyronema omphalodes. This appears as a pink or smouldering orange layer in the burned out remains of trees. It has the surface feel of plastic and, in its own way, is quite beautiful. Sometimes the fungus can cover the whole area of a fallen tree, so that you can see a ghostly orange outline on the ground where the tree has fallen. Such outlines were common in the Wewak control burn zone last year: click here to see images in our photo gallery.

Pyronema omphalodes at Quartz Hill track, November 30: the fungus is a direct response to fire. Photo:Bernard Slattery

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