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The fires of change

by Rob Blakers and Dan Broun

On 13 January, a lightning storm ignited large sections of forest in the South-Western Wilderness of Tasmania, causing irreparable damage to the region's unique alpine vegetation. An unprecedented dry spring and a summer of unrelenting heat and minimal rainfall left peat soils and ground fuels parched, and the generally lush mountainous areas vulnerable to fire.

The iconic forests, designated a world heritage area by UNESCO in 1982, have become an essential part of Australia's image as a land of plenty and great beauty. Their destruction is a stark indicator of what we stand to lose and how the world stands to change with the accelerated onset of climate change.

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