What We Don't Know

Climate change is an unknown factor when trying to determine the future of fires. Every season can be different from the last and climate change can have severe effects that could cause unknown changes. Climate change affecting fires in the Blue Mountains is a pressing concern due to the already present high likelihood of fires.

Any changes to fire regimes in the Blue Mountains will likely carry over to impact Blue Mountains flora and fauna (Hammill and Tasker 2010). Some vegetation communities, and their associated fauna, may be affected more than others, such as:

  • Wet sclerophyll forests

Increased fire frequencies could lead to a decline of rainforest shrubs in the understorey of these forests since many of these species have relatively thin bark and a limited ability to resprout after intense or repeated fires. The structure of these forests may change toward a more open, grassy understorey should resprouting ferns, grasses, and herbs fill in the gaps left by declining shrubs.

  • Rainforests

Although rainforests contain some retardant features and other features promoting recovery, fires can nevertheless burn into rainforest communities given conditions of extreme fire weather or prolonged drought. If the occurrence of such weather is more than occasional, the impacts of fire on these communities may be particularly severe. 

  • Healthland Communities and Heath Swamps

Many heathland plants short dispersal distances and these vegetative communities are often small and isolated. This mean any local extinctions at the hand of a fire may not be easily reversed by recolonisation from elsewhere. Extended dry periods may increase the likelihood of peaty soils burning and resulting in their practically irreversible loss.