Extent and effect of the 2019-20 Australian bushfires on upland peat swamps in the Blue Mountains, NSW

Kirstie A. Fryirs*, Kirsten L. Cowley, Natalie Hejl, Anthony Chariton, Nicole Christiansen, Rachael Y. Dudaniec, Will Farebrother, Lorraine Hardwick, Timothy Ralph, Adam Stow, Grant Hose

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The devastating bushfires of the 2019-20 summer are arguably the most costly natural disaster in Australian recorded history. What is little known is that these fires severely affected the temperate highland peat swamps on sandstone (THPSS), a form of upland wetland that occurs in the water supply catchments of Sydney in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and National Park. During the fires, 59% of THPSS was burnt and 72% of those by a high severity burn. Upland swamps at Newnes were the most affected, with 96% of swamps burnt and 84% of these experiencing a very high burn severity. We present an analysis of the spatial extent and severity of the bushfire on the THPSS and discuss some of the likely consequences on their geomorphological, hydrological and ecological structure, function and recovery potential.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Early online date22 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • climate change
  • fire regime
  • peatland
  • upland wetland
  • wildfire

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