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How a top-secret mission miraculously saved Australia’s ‘dinosaur’ Wollemi pines from bushfire


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REVEALED: How a top-secret firefighting mission miraculously saved Australia’s 200-MILLION-year-old ‘dinosaur trees’

  • Top-secret firefighting effort has saved the last of a world-renowned pine tree
  • The Wollemi pines in the Wollemi National Park faced destruction from bushfire
  • Desperate mission used fire retardant and irrigation system to keep flames away
  • But the efforts have been kept a secret so the pines’ location is not given away 

A heroic top-secret firefighting effort has saved the last of a 200-million-year-old tree species threatened by the unprecedented bushfire crisis.

New South Wales firefighters guarded the world-renowned Wollemi pines – given the nickname ‘dinosaur trees’ – in the state’s Wollemi National Park by dropping fire retardant and laying an irrigation system.

But the highly co-ordinated rescue mission to keep back the Gospers Mountain mega-blaze has mostly been kept a secret so the pines’ location is not given away.  

The world-renowned Wollemi pine trees (pictured) have been saved in a top-secret firefighting mission from the Gospers Mountain megablaze 

The highly-co-ordinated rescue mission (pictured) to keep back the Gospers Mountain mega-blaze has mostly been kept a secret so the pines' location is not given away

The highly-co-ordinated rescue mission (pictured) to keep back the Gospers Mountain mega-blaze has mostly been kept a secret so the pines’ location is not given away

The state government on Wednesday confirmed efforts by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and NSW Rural Fire Service ensured the wild Wollemi pines survived the fire.

The blaze, which was this week finally brought under control after two-and-a-half months, ripped through more than 512,000 hectares north-west of Sydney.

Firefighters used large air tankers to drop a blanket of fire retardant over the remote area.

Specialists firefighters were dropped into the site from helicopters to lay an irrigation system and NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said while some trees were damaged the species would survive.

‘The 2019 wildfire is the first ever opportunity to see the fire response of mature Wollemi pines in a natural setting, which will help us refine the way we manage fire in these sites long-term,’ he said.

‘Illegal visitation remains a significant threat to the Wollemi pine’s survival in the wild due to the risk of trampling regenerating plants and introducing diseases which could devastate the remaining populations and their recovery.’

The Gospers Mountain blaze (pictured in Bilpin on December 21), which was this week finally brought under control after two-and-a-half months, ripped through more than 512,000 hectares north-west of Sydney

The Gospers Mountain blaze (pictured in Bilpin on December 21), which was this week finally brought under control after two-and-a-half months, ripped through more than 512,000 hectares north-west of Sydney

A helicopter is pictured flying over the Wollemi National Park. The state government on Wednesday confirmed a co-ordinated effort ensured the wild Wollemi pines survived the fire

A helicopter is pictured flying over the Wollemi National Park. The state government on Wednesday confirmed a co-ordinated effort ensured the wild Wollemi pines survived the fire

Australian National University associate professor Cris Brack told The Sydney Morning Herald it was believed from fossil evidence the trees once lived across Australia between 100 and 200 million years ago.

He said the trees were so precious because they are difficult to clone – meaning they are likely to be 100,000 years old. 

Parts of central NSW received rain on Wednesday and more was expected across the state on Thursday but authorities fear forecast heavy falls could impact water quality and cause landslips and flooding.

An expert said it was believed from fossil evidence the trees (pictured in Wollemi) once lived across Australia between 100 and 200 million years ago

An expert said it was believed from fossil evidence the trees (pictured in Wollemi) once lived across Australia between 100 and 200 million years ago

Up to 30mm is predicted for parts of the south coast however falls are expected to be patchy due to associated thunderstorms.

Meanwhile, the rejuvenation process has begun in parts of NSW with inspections of bushland in Kulnura near Wyong on the Central Coast revealing new growth had already begun.

The Darkinyung Local Aboriginal Land Council inspected bush land on Wednesday for the first time since the Three Mile Fire ripped through the area.

A fire crew member works to keep the Wollemi pines safe from the Gospers Mountain bushfire burning nearby

A fire crew member works to keep the Wollemi pines safe from the Gospers Mountain bushfire burning nearby

The council’s senior land management officer Kelvin Johnson said some trees which were up to 400-years-old had been hollowed out and others completely destroyed.

However some trees had begun to throw up new greenshoots and it would take 18 to 24 months for the area to recover.

‘In some spots it breaks your heart that a month ago it was lush, green and flowering,’ Mr Johnson said.

‘Big old trees are now just black stumps attached to the ground. In saying that, it did get heavily hit but it did fair good compared to other areas.

‘The trees are in their defence mode already, they’ve lost their canopy, they’ve lost their leaves, so they can’t breath. So they’ve put suckers out from the base of the tree all the way up and it’s new growth three weeks after a wildfire went through there.’

Australian National University associate professor Cris Brack said the trees (centre) are likely to be 100,000 years old

Australian National University associate professor Cris Brack said the trees (centre) are likely to be 100,000 years old

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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