We have been getting into our sites to assess recovery after the 2019-20 fires (this has often required the 4WD winch and a chainsaw to clear the way in). Superficially, plants appear to be recovering, as in the following image of the main track into Gibratar Range National Park.

Plant recovery beside the main track into Gibraltar Range National Park

This is hardly surprising – the Australian vegetation has been adapting to fire over millions of years. What it may be having problems adapting to, though, is increasing fire frequency. In Gibraltar Range National Park there are areas that haven’t been burnt for over 50 years but this last fire season saw that change.

A large, long-unburnt tree resprouting after the recent fires.

 

Some of these long-unburnt areas adjoin patches of rainforest that have been protected by these buffer zones but even rainforests suffered in the recent fires. They also suffered in the preceding drought with many species within rainforest patches hit particularly hard, such as these walking stick palms, below.

Walking stick palms suffering from drought

A closer look shows some plants recovering by resprouting, like the eucalypts, and others recovering through seedling germination, like the Gibraltar Range Waratah seedlings below.

Waratah seedlings growing post-fire at Gibraltar Range

Other species show no signs of recovery yet, like Conospermum burgessiorum. We found this single adult (below) but no resprouts and no seedlings where we know there were many plants before the fire. Perhaps it is a species that will germinate in spring?

Conospermum adult. Where are the seedlings?

What I will be particularly interested to see is how the pollinators recover!

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