Life and death in the fire zone

The brilliant green in the photo below is Funaria hygrometrica, a moss which flourishes in fire ash. If you look closely you can see it’s growing in the ashes of a fallen tree. Harder to see, but still there, are dozens of small mushrooms, as well as a patch of fire fungus, Pyronema omphalodes ,also confined only to this ash rich line. That brilliant green patch is an intriguing sign of nature’s complex response to fire, still not properly understood.

Funaria hygrometrica on the ash of a tree trunk, Fryers Ridge May 25: the moss flourishes in post fire situations.

The rest of the scene is pretty desolate: it’s the margins of the Fryers Ridge Road, scene of a DELWP management burn last year [Cypress Drive, fire number CAS 066]. The severity of the burn on the steep slope below the ridge has scorched almost all trees to the crown, and most now look in crisis, with epicormic growth on nearly all of them. The slope is practically bare of ground cover.

Not all of the burn area is as bad as this: but enough of it is so severely burned that we have to ask the question, again: if it’s not the Department’s intention to destroy big trees, why does it inevitably do so?

The steep slope below Fryers Ridge road, near Timmins Track: fire managers aim to burn the bark off the Stringybarks. When the fire gets too high up the trunk, the tree is at risk.

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2 Responses to Life and death in the fire zone

  1. Tami McVicar says:

    No wonder they stopped calling them “control burns” – totally out of control; they don’t even pretend to know what they are doing to the whole ecosystem.

  2. laney says:

    Planned burning while useful in some ecosystems is an ecological disaster in others. opening up the forest, drying it out and promoting species that like fire and ironically maybe making it more prone to fire. More concerning to human life is that DELWP have not been collecting data on fuel loads and vegetation response in each different vegetation community, hence there has been little improvement of their strategies. I live in the forest and have read all their reports and I dont believe that the current planned burn regime in the Box Ironbark will make me safer. there is no control of weed infested gullies or weed infested high fuel roadsides near me as these works are more laborious and less of an Adrenalin rush than ticking off 600 hectares in areas further from town with little assets at risk.

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