Area blackened in northern Tasmania after bushfire, 30 January 2016. Photo: Dan Broun

By Linda Hunt
31 January 2016

(ABC) – The first images to emerge from within Tasmania's fire-affected World Heritage Area (WHA) have illustrated the level of destruction caused by bushfire, as experts warn such incidents are signs of a changing climate.

Many fires continue to burn around the state, ignited by lightning strikes. Some are in remote areas including Tasmania's Central Plateau, within the WHA.

Wilderness photographer and bushwalker Dan Broun has just returned from the Central Plateau.

Vision he filmed shows how the fires have raced through the area, which is home to unique alpine flora including pencil pines, king billy pines and cushion plants, some more than 1,000 years old.

Mr Broun walked four hours into the bushfire affected areas on Saturday.

"The scene is complete and utter devastation. There is kilometres of burnt ground, everything is dead," he said.

He said small pockets of areas protected by rock escaped the fire.

"I also witnessed devastated wildlife; burnt wallabies, dead wombats and the like," said Mr Broun.

The Lake Mackenzie fires have been burning in the Central Plateau for 11 days. About 11,000 hectares of WHA have been incinerated.

Some areas can recover from fire, while others, including the habitat of pencil pines, cannot.

"What I'm most keen about with my wildlife photography and this particular vision is that we de-myth this whole situation. These are unique and vulnerable plant communities," he said.

"We need for people to understand that this is not a natural event."

Ecologist Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick is also upset by the loss of alpine flora.

"They're killed by fire and they don't come back," said Professor Kirkpatrick.

"It's a species that would have been around in the cretaceous period. It's regarded as one of the main reasons for listing Tasmania as a world heritage area."

Fire ecologist David Bowman said the fires burning in Tasmania were a sign of climate change.

"This is bigger than us. This is what climate change looks like, this is what scientists have been telling people, this is system collapse." [more]

Tasmania fires: First images of World Heritage Area devastation emerge, show signs of 'system collapse'


  1. rpauli said...

    Pity. Tasmania was my target refuge place. When 5 more degrees of heating makes all the equatorial zones uninhabitable, then everyone will flock to as close to Antarctica as possible... (that is, everyone left will be headed there) - New Zealand and Tasmania are - or were prime. I hope they don't build condos there now.  


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