Recovery of the environment after the Bunyip State Park bushfires
Regeneration starts now
Natural regeneration of the land starts to happen within days of a fire. Our landscape has evolved with fire; just how soon and exactly how it recovers depends on a variety of factors including how intense the fire was and whether the soil is disturbed or left alone after the fire.
- The temperature of a fire in a particular paddock has a major effect on pasture recovery. The carrying capacity of pastures may be altered.
- Intense to very hot fires: Soil is virtually sterilised. All plant material and seed is destroyed as the fire burns into the top organic matter layer of the soil. A drastic reduction in annual grass species germination will be evident in these areas, and reseeding may be required.
- Moderate to cool fires: Most grass/legume seeds should be able to germinate after fire, especially the deep-buried seeds.
- Fire is an essential part of the natural cycle. It boosts species regeneration, and the bush usually recovers well after fire.
- Bush will start to resemble what it used to look like after about 12 months.
- There will be lots of flowering of native Orchids, given there is no competition from cover plants.
- Species that will appear first (early colonisers) are wattles, bracken, grass trees, ferns, kangaroo apple and Fire Weed. These come up very dense and may look “messy”. They play a vital role in fire recovery as they stabilise the soil and build nutrients for other plants to grow.
- Although you may want to do something about the weeds in the bush that appear early, it is important not to disturb the soil. Allow some weeds to grow, and manage those that pose the most threat.
- Animals will start to move back in once food is available.
- Eucalypts and other trees/shrubs will recover if they are only heat scorched, and will drop all their leaves before growing new ones.
- Some indigenous plants need fire to open seed husk and drop seed; this is the case for Banksias, Hakea and Casuarina. They will start to germinate when conditions are favourable.
- Usually the first thing to grow back, weeds will germinate quickly due to the recent rains and warm autumn weather.
- In the short term, weeds can provide valuable soil stabilisation after the fires.
- Leave weeds in the ground except for ones that are a long-term threat such as Capeweed and blackberries (infact, this is a great time to do targeted control of these pest weeds).
- Council has an active weed management program on roadsides. The germination of Broom species in particular are stimulated by fire and known problem areas will be monitored for treatment.
- Look out for new weeds germinating on your land due to hay coming in from other areas. Feed hay to animals in a confined area so you can monitor them and reduce the spread of weed seed.
- Weed seeds can easily spread in water after a fire, such as when it rains.
- If you need help identifying weeds, ask your neighbours, your local Landcare group, Council or the Department of Agriculture.