Latest News

Back to Latest News back

 

Tasmanian bushfire devastating world heritage forests

Tasmanian bushfire devastating world heritage forests
January 30, 2016

Bushfires in North Western Tasmania that have turned trees more than 1,000 years old to tinder have been described as a “global tragedy”.

The fires, which have burned in the Tasmanian World Heritage area over the past week have reportedly devastated parts of the ancient Gondwana ecosystem, burning areas of king billy and pencil pines – the last remaining fragments of an ecosystem that once spread across the supercontinent of Gondwana.

These trees, unlike Australia’s eucalyptus forests, which use fire to regenerate, have not evolved to live within the natural cycle of conflagration and renewal. If burned, they die.

To avoid this fate, they grow high up on the central plateau where it is too wet for the flames to take hold. However, a desiccating spring and summer has turned even the wettest rainforest dells and high-altitude bogs into tinder. When an electrical storm flashed its way across Tasmania on 13th January, the fires commenced.

Writing for The Conversation,  David Bowman, a professor of environmental change biology at the University of Tasmania stated “these fires pose an enormous, ongoing challenge to the fire service, with little immediate prospect of a speedy resolution to this crisis given the absence of soaking rains in the foreseeable future.

“Thankfully there has been no loss of life and comparatively limited damage to property because most fires are in remote areas.

“But there is mounting concern about the environmental impacts of the fires to the Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness, especially fires in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park and Cradle Mountain-Lake Saint Clair National Park.”

The fires were preceded and aggravated by the coincidence of two natural climate events – the Indian Ocean dipole and the Pacific El Niño which caused Tasmania’s usually drenching spring rains to fail almost completely.

While these events have occurred in the past, says Professor Bowman they were extremely rare, happening perhaps once in a millennium.

Between 1993 and 2003, Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service recorded 17 fires started by lightning. In the next decade that number rose to 30.

In a fire risk assessment of the world heritage area, the service warned that lightning fires should no longer be viewed as “natural” because of the influence of climate change. It concluded that lightning fires were now the main threat to the survival of the world heritage area.

Looking to potential recovery of the forest and its future management, Professor Bowman adds “obviously we need to maintain efforts to contain the fires in the iconic World Heritage Area.

“Given that such destructive fires are likely to become more common under a warming and drying climate we need to increase the capacity to attack fires quickly using both air craft and specially trained personnel.

“However, under a warming climate the ecological niche of much of the unique Tasmanian vegetation is shrinking, so serious thought is required about moving species to artificially protected environments, such as botanical gardens.

“In the worse case scenario moving some species to sub-Antarctic island may not be far-fetched.

“More fundamentally, the loss of vegetation that takes thousands of years to recover from disturbance is a warning shot that climate change has the potential to result in bushfires that will impact food security, water quality and critical infrastructure.”

Images: King Billy Pine (top) and Hellyer Gorge (below).

2nd July 2015 - UNITED NATIONS CALLS FOR BAN ON LOGGING AND MINING IN TASMANIA’S WORLD HERITAGE AREA

1st June 2015 - UNESCO CALLS FOR CHANGES TO TASMANIA’S DRAFT WORLD HERITAGE MANAGEMENT

27th January 2015 - FUNDING CUTS TO IMPACT TASMANIA’S PARKS AND WILDLIFE SERVICE WORLD HERITAGE AREA MANAGEMENT

15th January 2015 - TASMANIAN GOVERNMENT TO ALLOW TOURISM PROJECTS IN WORLD HERITAGE AREA

16th January 2014 - CLIMATE COUNCIL: AUSTRALIAN HEATWAVES MORE FREQUENT, HOTTER AND LONGER

18th January 2013 - TASMANIA PLANS POST-BUSHFIRE TOURISM MARKETING CAMPAIGN


Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.

 

supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

Pico Play

Pico Play is a global leader in the planning, design, development and construction of world-class themed attractions and entertainment that deliver extraordinary and memorable experiences to millions…

read more

Attractions / Consultants / Design / Recreation / Tourism

 
 

COMMERCIAL AQUATICS AUSTRALIA

Commercial Aquatics Australia provides aquatic solutions nationwide and is one of the largest and most experienced companies specialising in the design, construction, renovation, service, maintenance…

read more

Aquatics / Design / Play / Waterparks

 
 

Augmented Creative

Augmented Creative is an open organization of like-minded and highly dedicated, creative people who conceive, plan and execute visual solutions. We pursue new and innovative visual ideas to help…

read more

Arts / Attractions / Consultants / Design / Tourism

 
 
 

MYRTHA POOLS

Founded in 1961, Myrtha Pools® quickly became Italy’s première swimming pool company, and has since grown into one of the world's leading swimming pool construction…

read more

Aquatics / Design / Play / Waterparks / Wellness

 
 

Aussie Strength

We are Aussie Strength. The ultimate supplier for Commercial Gym Equipment that's built to deliver in the toughest environments. From USA-Built hardcore weight training equipment from Arsenal…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness

 
 

Digonex

Digonex is a leading provider of customised dynamic pricing solutions to clients in arts and entertainment, sport, attractions, cultural institutions and retail sectors. Digonex’s technology is…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Sport / Technology / Ticketing

 
 

Abel Sports

INTRODUCTION Abel Sports is Australia’s leading manufacturer and suppliers of Goal Posts, sports ground safety netting systems and coaches boxes for Stadiums ,Sports Clubs, Councils and…

read more

Recreation / Sport / Venues

 
 
 
 

get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business