Fire-Damaged Trees Can Be Valuable Habitats For Recovering Wildlife: Aussie Researcher

SYDNEY, Jan 12 (NNN-AGENCIES) – Damaged trees and half-burnt logs, left by bushfires, can be valuable habitats for recovering wildlife, according to latest Australian environmental research.

“Fires burn patchily, and small unburnt patches, half burnt logs and dead or fire-damaged trees are commonly left behind,” Professor David Lindenmayer from the Fenner School of Environment and Society, at the Australian National University said, in a statement.

“Our research demonstrated that these patches and remaining woody debris are very important to recovering wildlife populations.”

Lindenmayer has more than 35 years of experience researching the effect of fire on Australian wildlife and ecosystems, including studying the recovery of wildlife after the Black Saturday fires in 2009, and major fires in coastal New South Wales state in 2003.

His latest findings come amid worsening bushfire conditions across Australia’s eastern states, with at least 28 lives lost, more than 2,000 homes destroyed and about one billion animals perished nationwide since Sept last year.

Lindenmayer said, the un-burnt patches and surrounding un-burnt areas are actually “an important source of animals to repopulate burnt areas and they also offer essential food and shelter until burnt areas recover.”

“It is important to protect any of these remaining patches by not clearing them, and ideally to manage pest animals and weeds around these areas.”

In some cases, fires can be so hot that they burn seeds in the soil, with un-burnt patches becoming essential sources of seed for native vegetation to re-establish, he said.

“Standing fire-damaged trees, as well as, dead trees and fallen logs also provide many resources to surviving and recovering wildlife such as food, shelter and breeding hollows,” Lindenmayer said.

“Many trees that look dead will still be alive. In the months ahead, buds will sprout from under the blackened bark.

“Of course, where something is a hazard, like a dead tree close to a road, the hazard needs to be managed, but this could involve felling the tree and leaving it onsite for the benefit of wildlife,” he said.– NNN-AGENCIES