Bushland suffers 'long, painful death' in prolonged drought
BANKSIAS were one of the first things to perish as the prolonged drought has caused bushland in the region that was once green be blemished by brown, dying trees.
Stanthorpe Rare Wildflower Consortium secretary Liz Bourne labelled it a "long, slow and painful death" for the bushland as she had never seen the landscape in such a state in her 26 years in the region.
Many long-term residents are telling her the same thing.
Melaleucas and heathland bushes are among the dying species but Ms Bourne has also never seen bees and insects swarm to her bird baths like she has in recent times.
Roadkill is also at a high, as wildlife search for feed.
"It's one thing to lose plants you've planted in your garden, it's another thing to see the bush dying," Ms Bourne said.
"It's not like everything has died but it's enough to notice.
"There's droughts in plenty of places in Australia but I haven't seen any reporting on the amount of dying vegetation as we have here."
Ms Bourne, a keen orienteer, spends a lot of time in forests, but the sight around Stanthorpe is unrivalled.
She said the consortium had been running wildflower tours for well over 10 years, but she's not sure if they will run this spring.
"I don't think they've ever experienced conditions, well not in human times, anything like the drought that we've had," she said.
It rained a little bit before the snow at Stanthorpe last week and Ms Bourne said she had noticed some trees starting to resprout.
But she was concerned about the long-term recovery of the plants as she didn't think they had experienced such dry conditions before.
"In Girraween there's a real concern that, even before the fire the plants were stressed, it's whether it can recover from the combination of drought and fire," Ms Bourne said.
"A lot of the trees would have very deep roots, several metres, so there's obviously nothing down there for them.
"Hopefully there's enough seed in the top soil to regenerate and maybe some of them may still have root stock that's alive."
Compounding the concern is the prospect of heading into spring and summer with no rain.
With the amount of leaf litter that is falling from the trees, it will cause a higher fuel load and make the landscape more susceptible to fire, Ms Bourne said.
Every second tree dying in Warwick
TREES on the Granite Belt aren't the only ones succumbing to the relentless drought.
Warwick Mobile Towers owner Andrew Lomas agrees the drought is having a major impact on trees, as he says every second tree around the countryside is either dying or dead.
Pines and conifers are the main species needing removal.
Mr Lomas said while he'd always been busy, he was removing more dead trees than he'd done before.
"We have been taking out quite a lot of dead pines that have survived everything up until now," he said.
"We've even seen trees like crepe myrtles that are tough as nails and we've seen those dying."
Some eucalypt that were already on the edge of survival due to mistletoe have also died.
Mr Lomas said pines and conifers were not built for the Australian climate but he feared for other trees in the coming months.
"I'll be very worried if we don't get some rain at the latest by late spring or early summer," he said.
"A lot more of the smaller stuff and the bigger stuff will start to pan out because there's just no water.
"Exotic species that don't naturally grow in Australia will be more vulnerable.
"Then probably our big eucalypts will probably be the last to go because that's their natural habitat so they're used to having dry times and lean times."