Community & Business

8 July, 2022

Bushland will 'never grow back the same'

AFTER nearly half a century of scouring the Australian bushland collecting native seeds, Lui De Marchi is horrified at the destroyed state of local bush areas saying bushfires in recent years have ravaged the areas beyond repair and is imploring people to start burning off.

By Rhys Thomas

Mr De Marchi collected seeds such as eucalyptus and wattleseed from across Australia over 46 years both for the CSIRO and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries as well as collecting for private buyers including overseas. 

The seeds would be used to revegetate areas of Australian bushland after clearings done by mining companies and other clearing operations. 

Bushfires ravaged areas of the Australian outback several years ago around Cooktown and areas of the Cape, with the bushland struggling to recover. 

While the Australian bush is accustomed to regular burning, Mr De Marchi says that due to the increasing severity of the bushfires, the native land is taking longer to heal than usual – over four to five years minimum. 

“Because of the fire it opens up the canopy and you get more grass grown so you have a hotter fire next year or the year after – there is more fuel and everything else,” he said. 

“The issue is, because there were so many fires, trees do not flower for four or five years after being burned. 

“It will never grow back the same – I cannot find seeds anymore. 

“When you go to Chillagoe you never used to see the hills, all trees and now 90 per cent of the trees are gone.” 

Because landowners have eased off burning regularly due to restrictions and permits, he says when bushfires break out, they burn hotter and more ferociously than normal due to the increased fuel load. 

During a regular seed collecting trip to Cooktown, Mr De Marchi would typically collect hundreds of kilos of seeds but during a recent trip he collected none until he got into Cooktown itself. 

“The only place we can find seeds is in Cooktown itself, everywhere else, no trees are flowering,” he said. 

Mr De Marchi is imploring people to get permits and start burning again to save areas in the event of another devastating season of bushfires. 

“I am asking for people to burn when they can, as soon as they can,” he said.


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