26 September 2023

Weeping trees a joy to rangers

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The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), has reported that endangered weeping paperbark trees in the Richmond Valley’s Bungawalbin National Park are showing early signs of recovery following the Black Summer bushfires.

Acting Director of the North Coast Branch of NPWS, Janelle Brooks said fresh regrowth was lifting the spirits of staff assessing the parks and it was encouraging to see the weeping paperbarks starting to bounce back.

“New leaves are shooting from these trees’ bases, trunks and some branches,” Ms Brooks said.

“With 97 per cent of Bungawalbin National Park affected by fire, it is heartening to see nature reviving,” she said.

“While early monitoring of the weeping paperbark – or Melaleuca irbyana – shows leaves re-sprouting, it is too soon to know the extent of the recovery of the population.”

Ms Brooks said the Saving our Species (SoS) team would monitor the site for up to two years and provide input to the NSW Flora Fire Response Database.

Project Officer for SoS, Anna Lloyd said the weeping paperbark was isolated to two major coastal floodplains in north-eastern NSW, while a third population was in south-east Queensland.

“Monitoring these plants during post-fire recovery helps staff to understand how fire affects the survival and expansion of weeping paperbark populations,” Ms Lloyd said.

“Already, monitoring shows these trees can withstand fires of low-to-moderate intensity, and staff are now looking to see if seedlings will follow,” she said.

Ms Lloyd said all data would feed into a better understanding of fire regimes, which would in turn help to support decisions around hazard reduction burns.

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