Tasmania fire devastation shows signs of ‘system collapse’

Tasmania fire devastation shows signs of ‘system collapse’


As experts warn such incidents are signs of a changing climate the first images to emerge from within Tasmania’s fire-affected World Heritage Area (WHA) have illustrated the level of destruction caused by bushfire.

As fires continued to burn around the state, some remained in remote areas including Tasmania’s Central Plateau, within the WHA.

Dr David Bowman, a professor of environmental change biology at the University of TasmaniaABC News reports fire ecologist Professor David Bowman said the fires burning in Tasmania were a sign of climate change.

“This is bigger than us. This is what climate change looks like, this is what scientists have been telling people, this is system collapse.”

Professor Bowman said it was a difficult situation for firefighters.

“You can’t expect emergency services to just be able to do magic,” he said.

“If you’re dealing with fires on such an immense scale geographically, in such hostile terrain and burning in the ground, you have to prioritise.

“Budgets will be stretched and more money is needed.”

Tasmania-fires-black-landscape-Central-PlateauABC News reports that wilderness photographer and bushwalker Dan Broun filmed vision that showed how the fires had raced through the area, which is home to unique alpine flora including pencil pines, king billy pines and cushion plants, some more than 1000 years old.

Mr Broun walked four hours into the bushfire-affected areas.

“The scene is complete and utter devastation. There is kilometres of burnt ground, everything is dead,” he told ABC News.

He said small pockets of areas protected by rock escaped the fire.

Tasmania-fires-black-landscape“I also witnessed devastated wildlife; burnt wallabies, dead wombats and the like,” said Mr Broun.

The Lake Mackenzie fires have been burning in the Central Plateau for 11 days, and about 11,000 hectares of WHA have been incinerated.

Some areas can recover from fire, while others, including the habitat of pencil pines, cannot.

“What I’m most keen about with my wildlife photography and this particular vision is that we de-myth this whole situation. These are unique and vulnerable plant communities,” he said.

UTAS-Ecologist-Professor-Jamie-Kirkpatrick“We need for people to understand that this is not a natural event.”

Ecologist Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick is also concerned by the loss of alpine flora.

“They’re killed by fire and they don’t come back,” said Professor Kirkpatrick.

“It’s a species that would have been around in the cretaceous period. It’s regarded as one of the main reasons for listing Tasmania as a world heritage area.”

Tasmania’s Australian Greens Party Senator Nick McKim argued federal and state governments had ignored the science.

“Warnings have been given by the conservation movement that climate change is showing that there’s going to be an increase in dry lightning strikes,” Senator McKim said.

Nick-mckim-tasmania-australian-greens-senator“This has been foreseeable, unfortunately, and yet we saw quite a lag time between those fires starting on the 13th of January and resources being thrown at them.”

The head of the Tasmania Fire Service, Chief Officer Gavin Freeman, disagreed.

“We have absolute support from the state government to get whatever resources we need and our interstate colleagues have offered whatever resources we need,” he said.