How to lessen the long-term bushfire impact on our environment

The bushfires crisis that has consumed southern Australia in recent months has been unprecedented.
Published
10 March 2020
Division
Landscaping

Though the bushfire impact has been felt immediately with human, animal and property losses and has been widely acknowledged, we now need to turn our attention to help the natural systems regenerate.

Our environmental focus has now become infinitely more urgent as the eastern seaboard, at the time of writing, is now experiencing rain events that have not been experienced for a number of years. Whilst this may alleviate drought conditions and extinguish long-burning fires, the real prospect of destructive erosion to fragile soils and ecosystems threatens to impact the fire-zones long after the initial fire storms passed through.

At Ecodynamics we understand the sensitivities around this crisis, with our own staff either being stranded in fire-zones or evacuated from their own homes in NSW. It is still so new and recent in our minds, but the reality is that right now, the environment is at its most vulnerable point.

These major rain events are showing that unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of time being on our side.

We need to move quickly and decisively to try and preserve those soil areas before further rain hits and potentially washes it away, leaving us with a much more significant issue to deal with later.
Mitigating the Potential of Soil Erosion Post Fire

Australian native plants have evolved specific adaptations to survive the harsh environment. This includes the ability to produce seed annually that lays dormant on the forest floor ready for the right conditions for germination, through to post-fire release of seed from woody capsules into the nutrient-rich ash bed.

Once the fires have burnt the organic material on the forest floor, the soil is left exposed including the seed beds and ash beds which remarkably act as a stimulant for seed germination.

Ecodynamics Group Fire Response

To help our environments get back on their feet we have assembled a range of techniques and services from across our business that we can bring to bear to help you manage your burnt sites.  The range of offerings is outlined below and shows the techniques we can offer and the likely timescale at which they may be implemented post fire.

  • We have grouped them as permanent and temporary as the only permanent post-fire solution is establishment of permanent vegetation across the site.
  • We have outlined the activities you would implement in the 18 months following a fire event, which on most sites would be a combination of treatments that will be applied over the course of several years.
Our offering can be summarised as follows:

Program Management

Delivery of a post-fire plan will require the coordination of treatments, negotiation with stakeholders and programming works. Ecodynamics have experienced Program Managers around Australia who can help you develop and implement a recovery program.

Polymer

Immediately post-fire we can stabilise your sites with a range of polymer sprays that will bind the surface and resist the erosive forces of wind and water.

Erosion Control

We are skilled in the design and install of sediment control structures, such as check dams, jute mat and silt fence.  These methods are suitable for critical infrastructure and high value assets and installed in the immediate post-fire period to protect waterways.

Weed Control

Unfortunately many of our natural habitats are compromised by weeds. Fire can be a boon by eliminating weeds or can create an environment where weeds respond quickly and establish before indigenous plants.

Hydroseed

A long term solution of polymer, seed and mulch applied hydraulically will cost effectively re-establish cover crops and native vegetation.  We can source seed and design mixes to suit your site needs and then apply them with our in-house equipment

Plant Supply

We have nurseries that can source local seed and grow plants for long term restoration of your site. If seed is available plant propagation can begin immediately or we can source seed for you.

Direct Seeding

Areas can be direct seeded with cover crops or permanent vegetation in the winter following fires.

Planting

Installation and management of planting to ensure it’s a success.

Time is of the Essence

No-one could have foreseen the record-breaking rain events following so soon after this bushfire crisis. Certainly not in February, one of southern Australia’s driest months of the year.

Natural Land Managers, Local Government, Water Agencies and their contracting partners have the opportunity to help minimise the impact of future rainfall.

With appropriate intervention, modern soil stabilisation products and techniques can help our vulnerable landscape recover after intense bushfire events.

At Ecodynamics, we’re up for the challenge.

Already we have partnered with the Caring For Tomorrow initiative to plant up to 100,000 plants in fire-ravaged regions.

 

It’s part of our mission of creating Greener futures.

And it’s never been more important than right now.

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