Undoubtably this bushfire season will be etched onto the pages of history. A summer of discontent. With much of eastern Australia reeling from the ferocity of the flame, you sense that as a community, as a society, we have reached a pivot point of environmental enlightenment.
The year 2020 has heralded the clarity that comes with 2020 vision. It offers insights into our collective future. The implications of climate change are now tangible. It is impacting lives.
While fire has crafted and moulded the Australian landscape for millennia, today we bear witness to shorter intervals of fire frequency burning with unparalleled ferocity. Species that have evolved with fire are now threatened by the regularity in which fire is impacting ecological niches.
As a majestic tree, alpine ash seedlings need an ash bed to grow from. Historically, fire intervals of decades allowed the seedlings to establish, creating these grand mature forests. Now, with fire frequency of merely years, these seedlings are no longer afforded an opportunity to grow to maturity. The ecological web of life has been altered. Fire frequency, driven by climate change, has become an evolutionary trigger point. We are yet to fully comprehend the influences.
Many moons ago, the Brindabella Ranges received so much snow that a group of outdoor enthusiasts formed a ski club. They built a magnificent chalet. In 1939, blanketed by a thick cover of snow, the doors of Mt Franklin Ski Chalet opened. For the next 30 years, downhill skiing was the norm. History tells us that there was so much snow that the chalet had a barn-style door, the top half easily opened to climb over the accumulated snow below.
In my 30 years associated with these mountains, I'm yet to experience snow that would warrant building a chalet, let alone installing a barn-style door. It simply doesn't snow like it used too.
Mossy subalpine peatlands perform a life-giving function high in these mountains. These sphagnum bogs act like nature's filtration system, retaining and releasing precious water during drought into our water catchment. Regular fire is now impacting upon these ecosystems. The consequences could prove dire.
When I witnessed a tundra landscape burning in northern Canada, a Mexican firefighter quipped, "There's no such thing as a climate change sceptic at the end of a fire hose." No truer words were spoken.
By acting locally, we can indeed think globally. To be part of solution visit http://bit.ly/helptheclimate
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