'Dinosaur trees' survived Black Summer, but they haven't recovered enough for the next bushfire

An aerial photograph of the main Wollemi Pine grove in the Wollemi Pine National Park, after the 2019-20 bushfires.
14 January 2021

Last summer's daring firefighting efforts to save the world's last stand of Wollemi pines prevented significant loss of the larger, mature trees but left many juvenile plants severely burnt, prompting expert calls for permanent fire-dampening measures to protect the ancient grove.

Of the total of 49 large trees, just four escaped without some scorching but most of the stems of less than two metres in height were badly burnt, with only a small portion so far beginning to resprout.

One year on from the remarkable attempt to shield the secret location from the giant Gospers Mountain fire, the Herald can reveal researchers studying the trees' recovery fear more frequent and intense bushfires from climate change could doom a species that dates from the age of dinosaurs.

Berin Mackenzie, a member of the fire crew and one of the ecologists leading the post-fire study, said "extraordinary efforts" by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Rural Fire Service definitely prevented the fire reaching the canopy of most of the larger trees.

Read the full article on The Sydney Morning Herald website, featuring Hon. Prof Cris Brack