Regrowth and recovery after bushfires

The Tasman municipality faced many challenges following disastrous bushfires early this year which left homes destroyed, trees burnt and wildlife lost.

The small,  rural Tasman Councilís initial response included setting up support communication networks with SES personnel to address the needs of thousands of locals and trapped visitors with no power, road access or mobile phone reception.

Support and practical help then proceeded to rebuilding, collecting information, planning, removal of waste and dangerous and hazardous materials.

The turmoil and trauma of the event affected the community in different ways, and only now, without the sounds of chainsaws and large machinery clearing the land, are green shoots appearing out of the ashen wastelands.

Early stages of recovery included grant assistance, removal of burnt trees, hanging limbs or other dangerous vegetation, advice for rebuilding and replanting, and setting up communication networks.

A strong community spirit has seen numerous new programs commence and has strengthened existing partnerships.

Council has assisted with the Tasman Landcare Groupsí free garden assessment program, to assist people wanting advice on weed control and vegetation management. A focus was on what to expect after fire in the garden, along with an upcoming revegetation program.

The Council has also worked closely with the Dunalley Tasman Neighbourhood House to support revegetation, weed control and beach rubbish clean ups. The bushfire exposed years of rubbish accumulated in beach reserves. A recent clean up by volunteers collected half a skip load of debris on just one section of the beach.

The fire, which ripped through from Forcett Forests and jumped across waterways, was described as a fireball travelling at ferocious speed and with intense heat.

As well as houses reduced to rubble and ash in minutes, cars, water tanks and other objects were moulded into mangled sculptures in temperatures in excess of 2000įC.

The risk of septic tanks being weakened and rainwater contamination in water tanks was high, with other hazards including falling trees, gas, live power lines, explosive materials, aerosol cans, diesel, pesticides, unstable structures and health risks from dust and ash.

Planning, clearing, planting and subsequent regrowth is proving to be a therapy in a number of ways.

The replanting plan has used fire resistant plants or species which trap burning embers and sparks and reduce wind speed around buildings, in order to reduce the chance of future bushfires causing such devastation.