Eucalyptus trees are specialists at surviving, recovering and then thriving again after a fire. The species’ remarkable adaptability to bushfires is now on show, as a verdant green phoenix emerges throughout East Gippsland’s burnt out areas.
Three traits assist the eucalyptus in their post-fire recovery: first, their seed capsules open when burned and the seedlings thrive in freshly burned, ash-rich soils. Also, organs called lignotubers are buried beneath the ground and will sprout if fire damages the elevated canopy of the tree. Finally, many eucalyptus have thick, insulating bark that provides protection against moderate fires, but underneath the bark are epicormic shoots, which quickly sprout if the crown of the tree is damaged.
These adaptability attributes hand eucalypts a competitive advantage after a fire, as there will be less competition for light.
In recent years, more has been done to improve the resilience of Gippsland’s communities. Now, how can we make them more adaptable, so that when the next challenge buffers Australia, Gippsland’s towns can quickly and boldly rise out of the ashes again?
“The goal of resilience is to thrive” — Jamais Cascio.
“When you fight for survival, you don’t think much; you just do.” — Frank Lowy.
“Darkness is of possibility.” — Michael Leunig.