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Australian Bushfires and Their Ecological History

22810 views Jon Van Loon January 7, 2020 New South Wales, Australia Date shot: April 12, 2002

We are all horrified by the damage and loss of life, both animal and human, that has resulted from the widespread occurrence of Australian bushfires this year. Yet bushfires have been part of the natural ecology of Australia for hundreds of thousands of years. There are even a group of mainly of Australian plants known as Pyrophytes that tolerate and that are aided in their life cycle by bushfires. The Banksia flower shown in my photo has at its base a woody seedpod that in the heat of a bush fire opens and disperses its seed. After fire has gone the seed that has fallen in the ash on the ground germinates and is nourished by the mineral contents therein. The reasons for the widespread and the out of control nature of this years bushfires though not yet thoroughly documented, certainly in large part have climatic roots. To wit recent periods of persistent drought conditions plaguing most of Australia plus extended periods of 40 C plus heat waves and high winds.

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