For the last few months, Australia has been tormented by natural disasters caused by extreme weather, from destructive fires worsened by drought, to flash flooding that occurred when that drought suddenly ended. While the southern states of Victoria and New South Wales aren’t out of the woods yet and many fires are still raging, photos show that life goes on in the areas that the fire already passed through.
Plants that have evolved to shield their buds from fire so they can quickly resprout after being burnt at the surface, or even take advantage of the nutrients in ash, are called pyrophytic plants. It’s not uncommon to see them blooming en masse after a devastating fire, and the brilliant greens and reds against the blackened landscape have a stunning visual effect. But even though the cycle of being burnt and growing back again is normal for Australia’s vegetation, the plant and animal survivors still face challenges.
In 2011, following a 2009 fire that was the most deadly to humans in Australia’s history, it was observed that previously unknown and rare plants had emerged in Victoria’s Kinglake National Park. When fire clears out the vegetation cover preventing light from reaching the forest floor, dormant seeds lying in wait in the soil have a chance to flourish, allowing the ecosystem to start off on a new foot.