Sydney Arena

BLACKENED HERITAGE NORTHERN HORIZON

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Sydney’s northern horizon stretches into the Blue Mountains.

Today the grandeur of this eucalypts paradise is very much a blackened hinterland.

More than 80% of the Blue Mountains world heritage area has been erased.

The scale of the disaster is such that it could affect the diversity of eucalypts for which the Blue Mountains is famously recognised, according to the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute.

The Blue Mountains’ world heritage area covers one million hectares of national park and bushland and is dominated by temperate eucalypt forest.

The area is renowned for the diversity of its vegetation and is home to about a third of the world’s eucalypt species.

While most are fire-adapted many of the species depend on long intervals between fires. eucalypts can be reduced in diversity if fires come through too short of time and the full impact on tree species and wildlife would not be known until more assessment­s are made once blackened fire grounds became more accessible.

The fires burnt swamp communitie­s that release water slowly and are important water resources that feed into Sydney’s water supply and provide water for wildlife.

NSW fire crews were able to save the only known natural grove of Wollemi pines, so-called “dinosaur trees” that fossil records show existed up to 200m years ago. fires had entered areas that had not burnt previously, and prehistori­c Wollemi pines were saved by firefighte­rs.

Some 53% of the Gondwana rainforest area has burned.

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