Australia: Why These Fires Are Like Nothing We've Seen Before
Haunting images of burned animals fleeing the fires have been seen across the globe. It is now estimated that over 1 billion animal lives have been claimed by the fires while experts fear that some native plants and animals have been pushed to the brink of extinction. So how bad is the damage? And can Australia's wildlife recover?
The amount of land burned is immense.
Some 30 people have been killed so far - including four firefighters and over 18 million hectares (46,000,000 acres) of land have been ravaged by the flames, a lot of it in populated areas, unlike other blazes that have burned in other parts of the world this year.
The fires are decreasing in size, but dozens still burn, some out of control. Despite the heavy rains in some areas over the past few days, it is estimated that this current fire season is far from over. Hot and dry conditions are expected to return with a month of summer still left to pass.
Restoration. Here is what the future looks like.
Blazes have been downgraded after significant rain but with high fire dangers forecast, the crisis is not yet over. Hail, thunderstorms and hundreds of millimeters of rain have hit Australia recently, but the fires continue to burn.
While putting out the fires is the number one priority right now, restoration efforts are well on the way. The Australia government has set a goal to plant 20 million new trees once the fires are out and organizations, companies and individuals around the world are contributing to the cause.
When the fires are finally brought to an end, a long road to recovery will follow. While it is true that a lot of Australia's native plants and trees are accustomed to fire and rejuvenation, the magnitude of this year's fire season is so immense that human intervention will be a must in the road to recuperation.
Reforestation efforts will assist native flora in growing back and will provide habitats lost in the fires for all manner of native animals bounce back, creating healthy ecosystems that will flourish once more.
Planting trees is one of the most effective ways to restore the land.