Reviving Australia - Life after Fire
Updated: Mar 17
Australians are tough and so are our trees
Having experienced drought, bushfires, floods and now with the Covid-19, Australia is doing its best to move through very difficult times. Nature, wildlife, human lives, homes, businesses are all suffering immeasurable losses. What we still have though, is the hardy Australian spirit of putting one foot in front of another in spite of challenging and painful periods.
Local businesses in the different communities have already been affected by the natural catastrophes and the recent challenge of Covid-19 is dealing everyone an even harder blow. People are still fighting to keep going.
After months of bushfires, the recent abundance of rain is helping the burnt, dead vegetation stir to life.
Nature in her own way, is telling us not to give up. We have to support each other and keep going. At Accomplished Tree Management, we constantly see nature reviving itself. Just look at these amazing characteristics of trees and how they turn something disastrous into life.
Australia's tree life after the bushfires.
A confetti of seeds
Fire can be a good thing. First of all, Nature is stronger than we think, and the Australian bush is extremely resilient. It has had millions of years of training and practice to be so! It is perfectly capable of healing itself and reviving. In fact some trees such as the Australian gum tree thrive when an apparent disaster like a fire happens. Their seeds are stored in a tough, wooden capsule. On contact with fire, the capsules burst open, releasing the seeds in a confetti shower. The ashes left from the fire make a perfect growing ground for these seeds. All that is left is for a generous sprinkling of rain. And the seeds are ripe and ready to grow.
Trust and have faith
What we see with our eyes on TV, in the news, on social media and especially those who live in the areas that have been affected, may find it overwhelming and horrific. Yet, nature holds its own secrets, and sometimes it is hidden from the naked eye. We need to learn to look much, much deeper for the answers. Many Australian plants have amazing architectural structures that expand underground. These lignotubers are rock solid, giant underground wooden roots that produce rejuvenating buds. Even if the bits above ground are burnt, the root system is still alive. Please leave these trees alone. Anything that is done to them could damage their lignotubers. With a bit of time, they will push up through the soil and ash to grow again. Sometimes, all it takes is to trust time, and have faith. An added bonus from these trees is they develop multi-stem trunks later and these become important habits for different species.
It may be hard to understand, but forest fires are actually a natural and necessary part of our ecosystem. We experience the fires from our point of view as humans, but for nature, fires are a natural housecleaning agent. Forests contain a lot of dead material, bits of dead trees and decaying plant matter. What a fire does is to turn these bits into ashes which return nutrients to the soil at a much faster rate than waiting for the dead plants to decay naturally. Furthermore, fires help to kill off some extremely stubborn weeds and even eliminate diseases or insects that are damaging to trees. Wait for a while and you will probably start to see wildflowers burst out in colourful abundance after a fire. And where you have tons of wildflowers, you naturally attract the bees and the butterflies, Nature's tiny little hardworking elves responsible for sustaining life among the greenery.
In spite of the years of experience we have working with trees, looking after them, removing them safely and respectfully, we are still in awe every single day of how powerfully resilient they are. A forest fire does not entirely destroy. In fact, it helps to create a growth spurt in trees. When canopies get too bushy and block out sunlight, a fire helps to thin it out. This allows young trees to grow and the nutrients that seep into the soil from the burnt vegetation provides delicious fertilizer for these young trees. Some types of plants that have dense, fibrous trunks are not only resilient, they reshoot extremely quickly after a fire. With enough water, they are often the first ones to burst out in green.
Did you know dead trees actually provide homes for many nesting birds and also the insects they like to eat? It is not unusual to hear more birds chirping and singing in areas where there are a lot of dead trees. It is like a beautiful, secret message from nature. A forest fire is not a death sentence. What we see as dead, superficially speaking, is actually full of life and holds potential and opportunities.
So what can you do for your trees that have been affected by the fires?
At Accomplished Tree Management, we do not jump in and clear out burnt trees in an area just because they have been ravaged by fires. It is important to have knowledge of how nature works and what nature needs. It is harmful sometimes to intervene and in fact, clearing out the burnt vegetation means depriving certain animals and insects of their homes and removing valuable nutrients the forest needs to regenerate. Often, less is more, and by stepping aside respectfully, we allow nature to follow its own pace and rhythm to revive. If you are in an area that has been affected by a fire and you are not sure what to do, consult a certified arborist. Without in-depth knowledge of trees and how different species behave, it is difficult to know if a tree is dead and needs to be removed, or if it is able to regrow and should be left alone. Another point we often remind clients about is, check the legal requirements. Before you do anything to a piece of land and its greenery (even if it is burnt), make sure you have the necessary permission to do so.
Read here to understand more about legal requirements.
We offer consultancy services to help you decide if the area is safe and what needs to be done that protects nature and also does not put the residents of the area in danger.
Here are a few possible things you can expect to do for damaged trees:
Water the trees as soon as possible. If you find that the soil is not absorbing the water, scrape an inch off the top and try again.
Mulch the area to help it absorb water.
Make sure you wet the soil slowly, but thoroughly.
Protect the trunks and large limbs from sunburn. You can wrap them with a light-coloured cloth or cardboard. Keep loosening the wrap as the tree grows Once the canopy regrows, you can remove the wrap.
Prune off dead or broken limbs. Trees that have been identified as dead and requiring removal should be done so as soon as possible to avoid an infestation of certain insects.
Every day we are grateful for the work we do. Trees teach us so many life lessons. We will continue to love what we do as long as there are trees and nature. Talk to us, and share our passion and knowledge in helping trees thrive. Nature keeps going, one bud one shoot at a time. And so can we.
About Accomplished Tree Management: Tel 0411 443 535
Accomplished Tree Management is based in Port Macquarie and services the Mid North Coast. With over 16 years experience, we employ safe work methods and are certified with Australian AS 4373-2007-Pruning of Amenity Trees standards. We're fully insured with $20 million Public Liability and $1 million Professional Indemnity Insurance.
We provide the following tree services -
Tree management - tree removals, palm tree services, council permits
Tree and garden maintenance - hedging, pruning, deadwooding, stump grinding
Tree consultation - arboricultural reports, hazard assessment
Reviving Australia is written by Vermilion Pinstripes, a sales marketing and communications agency based in Port Macquarie helping businesses thrive with brand confidence.