Batemans Bay Bushwalkers inspect extensive bush fire damage to rainforest areas in the Monga National Park.
The Batemans Bay Bushwalkers recently undertook a trek into the Monga National Park. Their purpose was to revisit some areas of known rainforest to see how they had fared after the intense 2019/20 bush fires.
Ten walkers arrived at an area deep in the Park, where 5 years previously they had walked in beautiful rainforest, under an extensive Pinkwood canopy.
Once arriving at the location, sadly it was apparent the fire had caused significant damage. Although some of the Pinkwood had undamaged crowns, many were completely dead or had dead crowns with the stump starting to shoot coppice regrowth. Although the coppice may eventually form a new tree stem, it will take many decades to form a tree crown and will have to compete with the fast-growing Brown Barrel seedlings, now prolific in the area.
The scene was in stark contrast to what the walkers experienced 5 years earlier. The forest floor was no longer the mossy floored park land where one could imagine elves and goblins frolicking. It was littered with fallen trees and the ground’s soft spongey organic layer mostly destroyed. Many of the previously scattered large Brown Barrel remnants were now gone - burnt, fallen or just dead. But it was not all gloom. A few had survived and the walkers found one of their favorites still alive. Photos were again taken for old time’s sake.
The Bushwalkers exited the Park up a gully line to the north and what they saw there was more promising. They discovered a narrow strip of rainforest with tree ferns understorey still relatively intact. While a few tree deaths and fallen trees had created some openings in the canopy, the wet gully bottom still had a healthy rainforest and was as lovely as ever.
The walk was very much a reconnaissance mission for the bushwalkers - not knowing what they would find as to how the forest was recovering after the fires. It was depressing to see the devastation in this beautiful part of the Park. This was once an area with an aesthetically pleasing and interesting ecological system that had taken thousands of years to evolve and, was until recently, a survivor of a prehistoric era. Much of it now lost to the fires.
The walkers estimate that approximately 90% of the rainforest in this area had been burnt, and although maybe 50% of it will survive, it will take many many decades before the Pinkwood canopy will re-form and once again dominate. The other 50% sadly will likely be replaced with eucalypt forest.
The Batemans Bay Bushwalkers offer a programme of two walks a week to their members in their walking season from February to December, with different degrees of difficulty to cater for all levels of bushwalking. For more information about the activities of the Batemans Bay Bushwalkers, or on becoming a member, or even to just come along as a visitor on one of their walks, see the BBBW website for all the information -- http://baybushwalkers.org.au