Environment When the smoke clears

When the smoke clears

No matter how devastating bushfires may be, we know life will eventually return. But in what form?

Research from La Trobe University shows it all depends on the surrounding landscape and what’s left intact.

Honours student Angela Simms studied a range of sites recovering from bushfire across Victoria.

She found invasive species like house mice were more often found in burnt-out areas surrounded by farmland.

Various native species such as cockatoos were more common in areas surrounded by a mixture of mallee vegetation and grassy woodland.

“We can conclude that the surrounding habitat and vegetation to a fire directly determines the species that will recolonize that area,” she says.

“From this, we know the wider landscape context – particularly surrounding species and vegetation – should be a key consideration for conservation programs when planning locations for strategic burns.

“But it also tells us a lot about what to expect when a bushfire does take place, and what preparations they can undertake to restore native wildlife that could be vulnerable when needed.”

The results will help inform decisions about how to manage bushfire risk through strategic burning.

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