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Australia learned from the fire of the century

Sydney. People wearing masks breathing on the beach, dark sky in the middle, flames burning almost to the sea – early 2019/2020 Australia’s wildfires were one of the worst fire disasters in the world. Across Australia, 17 million hectares of land, about three billion animals were burned and more than 30 people were killed.

However, in a certain way, you live with the theme below the theme. Because: “Fire is part of the Australian landscape, it’s part of the life cycle,” ecologist Kathy Butler explained when she visited a site twelve months after the fire. Australia’s grass trees and eucalyptus also need fire heat to regenerate and reproduce. However, the expert explained that the mega fire that spread for several months in 2019/2020 was “not normal”.

Bush of Australia: Master of Reconstruction

In many cases we could see how climate change was interfering: for example, dry plants combined with high temperatures and hot, dry air were the fuel for fires in Australia. Sometimes the fires were so intense that they even created their own weather – storms triggered more fires by their lightning. With the exception of humans, faulty power lines and dry thunderstorms, climate change has become an indirect cause of fire.

However, fortunately, the Australian Bush is a master at reproducing. Twelve months after the fire, it has re-emerged in almost every corner. Eucalyptus looked like “hairy” – they allow the branches to sprout with green leaves from the stems to support the photosynthesis of the top of the burnt tree. The grass trees were in full bloom and the other shrubs were already growing from the ground. The seeds that need the heat of the fire to get rid of the capsule take root and the small seedlings emerge from the earth.

Meanwhile – one and a half years after the disaster – large parts of the burned bush have grown back. But there are other scars: animals in particular cannot recover as quickly as plants. However, in the end, the plants are also at risk of fire: due to climate change, it burns frequently and violently, and as a result, not only the biodiversity of the animals but also the plants are under stress.

Technology in the fight against disaster

To better prepare for future fire disasters, the Australian research firm CSIRO is now training state officials on fire behavior and forecasting. After all, as researchers write, the use of technology can “help to better understand, predict and manage fires”. Among other things, scientists have developed a model called Spark, which can calculate the spread of fire in nature and is now used by fire protection authorities in many Australian states.

Satellite data are also increasingly used to control fire hotspots. In addition, researchers have developed “Emergency Situation Awareness (ESA)” software that monitors social media to quickly filter fire reports. The financial resources of the fire brigade have also been significantly increased. For example, trucks must be well equipped to withstand fire and firefighters must be safe inside.

Tribal methods are in use

Tina Bell, a fire ecologist at the University of Sydney, said there had been “significant discussions about fire safety practices” after the fire. In order to find a new way of dealing with fire, people returned to the traditional methods of the aborigines, the Australian natives. The expert confirmed that the voices of the tribesmen were mostly heard from the fire.

The tribes have been living with fire for thousands of years, and the bush has always burned to revive and regenerate. Their traditional approach is to operate with relatively frequent, small and “cold” fires – which will benefit Australian plants but avoid serious disasters such as the summer of 2019/2020.