– Colours of Regeneration

The Currowan fire had been burning in the Shoalhaven region, on the NSW south coast, since November 2019 and burnt for 74 days and across 499,621 hectares. It was sparked by a lightning strike, and despite the best efforts of teams of firefighters, it raced through the whole region, spanning the length of the Shoalhaven and burning into other nearby regions.

The following images are taken in and around Illaroo and Bugong National Park.

Irreplaceable loss

Yes, the Australian bush is recovering from bushfires – but it may never be the same. We can take some heart in the regenerative power of the Australian bush. However, when we read of “recovery” in the media, we feel we must clarify what that might actually look like.

Although fires are natural in Australia, they’re now occurring at an unprecedented frequency and intensity in areas that, historically, did not burn. This new regime does not allow the effective recovery of natural systems to their pre-fire state.

In these cases and many others, animal species relying on these trees and their ecosystems are profoundly affected. Well before the latest fires, Australia had an abysmal record on vertebrate extinctions. This summer’s fires have brought some animal species, including the Kangaroo Island dunnart, closer to extinction.

While Australia’s environment has evolved to adapt to fire, our research shows we can no longer assume it will recover completely.

Black Summer

As of 9 March 2020, the fires burnt an estimated 18.6 million hectares (46 million acres; 186,000 square kilometres; 72,000 square miles),destroyed over 5,900 buildings (including 2,779 homes) and killed at least 34 people. An estimated one billion animals have been killed and some endangered species may be driven to extinction.

According to data provided to the commission by Risk Frontiers, a risk management and catastrophe modelling company, the total area of bushland burned during the Black Summer fires across Victoria and New South Wales was the largest in 19 years.