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In a fire-blackened landscape, signs of life are everywhere. A riot of red and green leaves erupt from an otherwise dead-looking tree trunk, and the beginnings of wildflowers and grasses peek from the crunchy charcoal below.
Much Australian flora has evolved to cope with fire, recovering by re-sprouting or setting seed. However, some plants are sensitive to fire, especially when fires are frequent or intense, and these species need our help to recover.
A - Wildlife - Recovery - Package - Morrison
After announcing a A$50 million wildlife and habitat recovery package, the Morrison government recently met with Australia's leading wildlife experts to steer recovery efforts.
Encouraging native flora to bounce back from these unprecedented fires requires targeted funding and actions to conserve and restore plants and ecological communities, including seed banking.
Plants - Fire
How do plants naturally recover from fire?
Many plants from fire-prone ecosystems have evolved strategies to survive, and even thrive, with fire. Some resprout after fire, with green shoots bursting from blackened stems. For others, fire stimulates flowering.
Fire - Seed - Germination - Hundreds - Species
Fire can also trigger seed germination of hundreds of species, as seeds respond to fire "cues" like heat and smoke.
Seeds may wait in woody fruits stored on the plant. The fruits' hard capsules shield the seeds from the fire, but the heat opens the capsules, releasing seeds into the soil below.
Recovery - Soil - Seeds - Plants - Wildlife
We can capitalize on this natural recovery by not disturbing the soil where the seeds are scattered, not clearing "dead" plants which may resprout and provide shelter for remaining wildlife, including perches for birds who may bring in seeds.
We should also stop vegetation clearing, especially unburnt vegetation home to threatened species and communities.
When do we need to intervene?
While Australian plants and ecosystems have evolved to embrace bushfires, there's only so much drought and fire they can take.
Plants - Ecosystems - Alpine - Rainforest - Species
Many plants and ecosystems, including alpine and rainforest species, are not resilient to fire, especially if drought persists or...
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