South Sister St. Marys, Tasmania

South Sister lost to recent bushfires

update 2006/12/17

South Sister on fire

View of South Sister aflame
Image taken from German Town looking west.

Fire news

Recent severe bushfires in the St Marys area have sadly resulted in both South and North Sister being burnt. On December 10, 2006 a fire ravished the South Sister followed by burning of the North Sister late that night. The coupe and beyond (southern and northern slopes, the rocky peak) have all been severely burnt.

Many properties in the immediate area have suffered losses including burning of sheds, cars, water pipes and tanks, fences, gardens, animals etc. Local residents are devastated by the situation but have banded together to protect the properties and forests. Many are totally exhausted but continue to fight the fires that continue as well as clean up and start afresh.

Fires have also ravished the area around Cornwall (west of South Sister), forest north of the Nicholas Range (all through Dublin town and up to Scamander), east to lower German Town, St Marys Pass and Four Mile Creek and southeast to Irish Town (St Patrick's Head has also been burnt).

Currently a fire still burns northwest of North Sister. With winds forecast for Monday Dec 18 we are hoping the fire will not return. The eastern slopes of Mt Elephant are currently burning and there are concerns the fire may continue to burn south towards Douglas Apsley National Park and Bicheno.

The South Sister coupe has been severely burnt and now without undergrowth it is much easier to see the rocky nature of the coupe. A good example is the view from a picnic area - see before and after photos.

We have no word from Forestry Tasmania as to their intentions regarding the coupe however with the destruction caused, it is unlikely that logging will proceed (at least we hope this will be the case). This would only add insult to injury to all of us who have suffered from the fires.

We will continue to provide updates as we learn more of the situation.

Other issues:

As already mentioned, our appeal to RMPAT regarding the failure to list three lichens on the Threatened Species List has been scheduled for February 7, 2007. Minister Llewellyn's recent challenge that there was no right of appeal has been deemed incompetent with RMPAT ruling on December 8, 2007 that our appeal is competent. One win for us!
Hence, the Hearing will proceed as scheduled in February.
As for the viability of the lichens after the fire, a thorough investigation will be carried out once the fire and smoke has settled. With the unique microtopography and rocky nature of the mountain it is likely that some lichens will have survived.

We will continue with the research we have begun over the past few years (soil, invertebrates, fungi, lichens etc) although our plan for a Biodiversity Conference in March 2007 will now be postponed.
Plans are still afoot to have the area declared a reserve and linked to the existing forest reserves of Mt Nicholas, Forest River and German Town as well as St Marys Pass State Reserve. We will continue to work on this and hope St Mary's sesquicentenary might be the catalyst for such an occurrence.

More images of the fire have been provided by SOS members.

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