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Fire and the Forest
Mountain Ash:

Fire and the Forest

High rainfall and lush vegetation means that bushfires occur rarely in Mountain Ash forests. But when extended drought comes, the huge quantity of flammable material means any bushfire will be intense. Such fires are essential to the forest's existence. Bushfire kills the Mountain Ash, and yet it is only in the charred and desolate aftermath of wildfire that its seed germinates and grows. Anywhere Mountain Ash forest exists, there must be a history of bushfire. Its birth was the date of the last big fire.

fire diagram

After fire the forest regenerates, changing in plant and animal structure over the decades or centuries until the next big fire. This sequential change in species inhabiting the forest over time is called succession. There is no 'climax' stage as is commonly found in northern hemisphere forests. Mountain Ash forests are in a constant state of successional change. The life history stages of the Mountain Ash are useful markers of successional change in the wet forest environment. These stages are: Germination, seedlings, saplings, pole, spar, mature and old growth.

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