Find out how South Australia’s Flinders Chase National Park is recovering post-bushfire

Find out how South Australia’s Flinders Chase National Park is recovering post-bushfire

Plant life is bounc­ing back at Flinders Chase on Kan­ga­roo Island. Learn more about the park’s regeneration.

The 2019 – 20 bush­fire event on Kan­ga­roo Island was the largest in the island’s record­ed his­to­ry. The bush­fire burnt most of the west­ern end of the island, includ­ing 96 per cent of Flinders Chase Nation­al Park (and the adjoin­ing Ravine des Casoars Wilder­ness Pro­tec­tion Area).

But, it doesn’t take long for the bush to bounce back. Many native plant species are adapt­ed to sur­vive, regen­er­ate and thrive after fire. Here’s how Flinders Chase is faring:

Beau­ty of regeneration

Epi­cormic growth is a term used for the splash­es of green­ery emerg­ing on woody trees fol­low­ing bushfires.

Fire trig­gers dor­mant buds to sprout again – this is the plant’s reac­tion to stress. Nor­mal­ly these buds are supressed by hor­mones from active shoots high­er up the plant, but because these high­er up shoots have been burnt away, the hor­mones are not there to supress them any­more (yes, trees have hor­mones too). 

Epi­cormic growth can be very fast. Fol­low­ing the recent rains, some plants are grow­ing a few cen­time­tres a day!

Post-bush­fires plant life is bounc­ing back at Flinders Chase on Kan­ga­roo Island 

Native sedges, gah­nias and oth­er plants are also re-sprout­ing – some did so with­in only three weeks of the bushfires.

This re-growth is pro­vid­ing impor­tant food for species like wal­la­bies and kan­ga­roos, as well as less­er-known crit­ters like insects, which are an impor­tant part of any ecosys­tem and food chain.

The park’s bush­land of yac­cas, hakeas and mallees are also turn­ing the land­scape green again.

Yac­ca leaves grow very quick­ly after fires, even when the plant is not much more than a black stump.

The yac­ca flower spikes that form soon after fires can grow sev­er­al cen­time­tres a day to a height of over 6 metres with­in three to six months. This makes them one of the ear­li­est and most impor­tant nec­tar and pollen providers for crea­tures like lori­keets, pygmy pos­sums and a whole host of insects.

It won’t be long until the bush is back.

Fire his­to­ry of Flinders Chase

Bush­fires have played an inte­gral part in shap­ing the ecol­o­gy of the Aus­tralian land­scape for mil­lions of years. Warm springs, hot sum­mers, dry veg­e­ta­tion, strong winds and low humid­i­ty all cre­ate the ide­al con­di­tions for fire, with light­ning the pri­ma­ry trigger.

The last major bush­fire in Flinders Chase Nation­al Park was in 2007, but there were oth­ers in 1970, 1968, 1958, 1954, 1953 and 1931 (when records began).

The Decem­ber 2007 bush­fire burnt more than 90,000 hectares, of which 75,000 hectares was park and reserve land.

Did you know?

The icon­ic sites of Remark­able Rocks, Cape du Couedic Light­house and accom­mo­da­tion, Admi­rals Arch and Cape Bor­da Light­sta­tion and her­itage keeper’s cot­tages all sur­vived the bush­fires and many bush­fire affect­ed sites have reopened to vis­i­tors. Find out what’s open now in Kan­ga­roo Island’s icon­ic nation­al parks des­ti­na­tions.

Want to learn more about South Australia’s bush­fire recov­ery? Find out how theglossy-black cock­a­toos are going on KIor how theAde­laide Hills parks are bounc­ing back after the bush­fires.

(Main image cour­tesy of Quentin Chester)

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in April 2020. 

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living