Many landholders wanting to assist the recovery of bushfire affected areas are asking what they should do and what species they should be planting to speed up the recovery process. However, as Louise Brodie from the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators explains, in most cases, “the need for planting is likely to be rare in our fire adapted ecosystems, even after extreme fire. Instead, past experience shows that interventions to control weeds are often all that is needed to reinstate processes of regeneration by a diversity of native plants that then provide habitat for fauna”.
As Brodie says “Fires give us a rare opportunity, perhaps the unique positive of this tragedy, to facilitate the removal of entrenched weed which is hampering the regeneration of many plants. In the Bega Valley, Dry River in Quaama provides an example of this opportunity. Prior to the fire in late December 2019, a large area of the river reserve between the bridge and the cemetery was overgrown with invasive honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) which reached up into the tree canopy. Five months after the fire, small honeysuckle plants are just beginning to sprout back, providing the ideal opportunity for controlling this weed before it smothers regenerating native vegetation.
Some of the many species identified by botanist Jackie Miles in the reserve last week included Wombat berry (Eustrephus latifolius), Sally Wattle (Acacia floribunda), Blackthorn (Bursaria spinosa), Watergum (Tristaniopsis laurina), Bottlebrush (Callistemon subulatus) and sprouting eucalypts like Bluebox, River peppermint and Maiden’s gum. Many of the young shrubs and trees planted by the local community prior to the fire have also survived, sending out new shoots from their bases.
You can read Lousie Brodie’s full article here in “Giving Bushland a Chance to Recover After Wildfires“.
The Australian Association of Bush Regenerators (AABR) has also produced the first in a series of videos to assist land managers undertaking post fire weed control. “The native plants usually have the capacity to regenerate (unless the damage is particularly severe), but where weeds are involved, they probably need assistance. With the right approach, we can make a big difference”. To see their general tips, watch “First aid for burned bushland – Assisting regeneration after fire: why it’s so important” or read the transcript here.