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Bushfire impacts,
recovery & outlook

Australia is a no doubt a sunburnt country and our unique landscape shares a long and important relationship with fire. But even our most fire-adapted plants were devastated by the intense summer bushfires. While new growth is emerging and cutting-edge science is saving species - there's still a long road to recovery for our flora that went up in flames. 

Rising from the ashes

More than 11 million hectares of land burned across Australia over a period of about six months and it is estimated that between 3–7.2 billion trees were potentially impacted.

In this episode of Branch Out you'll discover the amazing fire survival mechanisms of plants, the recovery efforts to save some species from extinction and the potential long-term effects and future outlook of our fire seasons.

You'll also be transported to the day of an amazing rescue mission that took place in a secret location in the Blue Mountains where the intense Gospers Mountain Fire threatened the critically endangered Wollemi Pine population.

Hit play below to take a deep dive into the unprecendeted bushfires with this inspiring and knowledgeable guest line up: 

  • Dr Brett Summerell - Chief Botanist at the Garden's new Australian Institute of Botanical Science
  • ​Professor Lesley Ann Hughes - Australian Climate Council
  • Ben Shephard - Acting Media Manager at the NSW Rural Fire Service
  • Ian Allan - Arborist at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garde Mount Tomah 
  • Berin Mackenzie - Plant Ecologist at the Department of Planning Industry & Environment 
Aerial view of the conservation area surrounding the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah that was ravaged by the intense Gospers Mountain Fire
The Gospers Mountain Fire burning through Wollemi National Park - one of the largest fires Australia has ever seen. Rick Lang took this shot while onboard a 690 Turbo Commander flying ahead of large air tankers showing them where to strategically drop fire retardant. Credit: Rick Lang.
Photo taken by Adam Stevenson at Wallabi Point on Tuesday 12 November from the NSW RFS Facebook page.
A lignotuber is a woody swelling of the root crown that some some plants have as protection against fire. The crown contains buds from which new stems may sprout, as well as stores of starch that can support a period of growth in the absence of photosynthesis. 
Some plant species have adapted to use fire and smoke to help with seed germination. With the banksia, ripe seed can hang on the plant in woody cones for years until a fire passes through and then it will release its seed.

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Between episodes, head over to our science page to learn more about how world leading scientists are developing solutions to the world’s most critical environmental and biodiversity issues.