Friday, 21 December 2012

Burning issue

Contrary to expectation, rare orchids are blooming near Bonegilla in Northeast Victoria – all because they are regularly scorched, it seems.

According to Australian local press, experts say burns for 20 years have led to a tenfold increase in the native orchids and authorities are using the lessons from these burns to improve other native grasslands. The burns replicate what happened before Europeans arrived.
 Sustainability and Environment Department and Parks Victoria firefighters lit five hectacres of reserve not far off the Murray Valley Highway. Firefighters doused still-smouldering trees, reducing the landscape to a smouldering mass.

Senior flora and fauna officer with DSE, Glen Johnson, said the burn was perfect for the native plants. ‘This area has been intensively managed for more than 20 years and is now seen as a barometer of how to manage other areas,’ he said. ‘We have seen the orchids that once were as few as 10 now number in the hundreds.

‘The orchids are adapted to fire, the burn helping to reinvigorate and rejuvenate the less competitive elements by reducing the biomass and creating space between the tussocks of kangaroo grass.’ Get a glimpse of the local flora on this virtual trail.

Pictured: Spotted Sun Orchid, a native to Australia