Fears of another 'forest collapse' in WA

Friday 19 Apr 2024

After a record-breaking hot summer and significant dry spell, ecologists are warning large pockets of WA's central to south-west coast are facing a potential forest collapse event, where trees and other smaller plants get so dry they die.

One expert has likened it to coral bleaching on land, and just like in the ocean, such an event can have serious implications on the wider ecosystem, impacting breeding habitats and potentially populations of entire species.

Murdoch University fire and plant ecologist Dr Joe Fontaine has been tracking and recording signs of tree and plant stress since early February, with numerous areas displaying large swathes of dry and dying flora, some of it already dead. "We've had a really long, dry summer," Dr Fontaine said, standing among dry and dying coastal vegetation in Manning Park in Perth's southern suburbs. 

"The plants were stressed, and now they've run out of water and they're beginning to brown off, and as more and more of them are dying … it's affecting our biodiversity."

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Source: ABC News

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