Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s rainforests used to be too wet to burn. Not now.

Scientists thought Australia’s rainforests were too wet to burn – then climate change hit, SBS News visits the Paluma Range National Park in Queensland to see firsthand how the trees and species inhabiting the area have been impacted. SBS NEWS, BY RACHEL CARY 15 Dec 19,

The Great Barrier Reef is currently the poster child for the impacts of climate change, but just inland from the coast, Queensland’s rainforests are being hit just as hard.

Forests that were once considered too wet to burn are more increasingly doing exactly that.

Professor Steve Williams from James Cook University has been observing the Paluma Range National Park, near Townsville, for 25 years. In that time, he says the area has changed a lot.

We noticed the first change while on a drive with Professor Williams up to a viewing deck, 900 metres above sea level.   At 600 metres, the fire had burned to the outer edges of the rainforest.

That’s not really that normal,” Professor Williams says.

“We were right on the edge, so that’s kind of within the range of possibility, but it’s basically a sign of what’s been happening and a sign of what’s to come.”

The Australian Conservation Foundation says rainforests were once considered too wet to burn.

Its CEO Kelly O’Shanassy says the Paluma Range National Park rainforest isn’t the only one now affected.

“Just in the last few years, we’ve seen rainforests in northern Australia burning,” she says.

“In the last few weeks we’ve been seeing rainforest in Queensland and New South Wales burning and a few years ago we saw very wet forests in Tasmania burning.”…….

The Wet Tropics Management Authority says climate change is the biggest threat to rainforests.

It released a climate adaption plan earlier this year and is calling for urgent action from governments and communities to limit climate change impacts.

The ACE says if we lose the rainforests it will severely impact the ecosystem.

“Rainforests are like the air conditioners for our planet,” Ms O’Shanassy says.

“Rainforests attract water so they attract rain for our planet.” ……

Professor Williams fears a longer drier dry season will see more fires impacting the Paluma Range National Park.

“Rainforests have been mostly considered to be fireproof, but if you get a long enough dry season that’s dry enough… and especially if you combine that with the impacts of a cyclone… then you’ve got the possibility of really severe fires going through.


December 16, 2019 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming

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