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From rainforest to cinders: National park may take 'hundreds of years' to recover from bushfire disaster

By Tom Forbes and Harriet Tatham, Tuesday December 4, 2018 - 19:30 EDT
ABC image
One week ago, this view of the Eungella National Park was a rich green subtropical rainforest. - ABC

There are concerns a national park famous for its waterfalls and luscious greenery may take hundreds of years to recover from the Queensland bushfire disaster.

Eungella National Park, 90 kilometres west of Mackay, was damaged by a blaze over the weekend, causing 110,000 hectares of the national park and surrounds to be blackened.

Parts of the green subtropical rainforest have literally been reduced to cinders.

University of Queensland fire ecologist Philip Stewart said the impact may be felt for generations.

"Rainforests can recover, but we're talking hundreds of years depending on the species," Dr Stewart said.

And according to Dr Stewart, prolonged dry weather is only making the situation worse.

"With the drought that we're seeing and the types of weather conditions, obviously we're going to be seeing catastrophic types of impact on that vegetation," he said.

"There is a very good likelihood there will be a high mortality of those species."

Local tourism operators concerned

With tourism a big contributor to the township of Eungella, some locals are concerned about the future.

Joe and Wen Zhu run eco-resort Broken River Mountain Resort and are worried about the impact of the fire on the rainforest and their business.

"This is a treasure of this local area and also a treasure of Australia," Joe Zhu said.

"We need the environment, the animals, the wildlife, everything.

"We worry not only about our business but the whole area."

While the resort has reopened and the Eungella General Store is back up and running, other businesses have remained closed.

Despite this, general store owner Michaela Pritchard said that her community is resourceful and will rebuild.

"It has been like a war zone up here," she said.

"It has been full on and everyone is starting to wear out, but we've got to keep going.

"We're very resilient and very resourceful.

"[But] it would be wonderful to see everyone try and support us after what we've been through."


© ABC 2018

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