Wildlife, Plumwood Mountain and the Currowan Fire

Plumwood Mountain journal acknowledges the Yuin people and offers profound sympathy and sorrow for all that has been destroyed in the recent fires on Yuin Country.

Plumwood Mountain, the place from which the journal takes its name, is on Yuin Country.

It is also the place from which the late Australian ecophilosopher, feminist and activist Val Plumwood, adopted her name as a gift from the place, and is named after the plumwood tree (Eucryphia moorei) which grows there. The plumwood tree in the journal’s banner, from a photo by Anne Edwards, is in a deep rainforest valley.

As readers who know the region will have suspected, recent catastrophic fires in the South East of New South Wales have impacted on Plumwood Mountain and the more-than-human kin for whom it is home. While Plumwood Inc. committee and friends are working to care for wildlife on Plumwood Mountain, you are invited in solidarity to support locals through NARG (Native Animal Rescue Group) with wildlife care in the aftermath of the catastrophic fires in the region.

Plumwood Mountain and the Currowan Fire

In addition to substantial forest, the Plumwood Mountain site just off the Kings Highway, about 25 kilometres South East of Braidwood, and not far from Monga, includes a stonehouse built by Val Plumwood and friends, surrounded by a small European style garden potentially as a firebreak, with shed and guest quarters. By agreement with Rural Fire Service and National Parks, no humans were on site when fires threatened.

Anne Edwards, immediate past caretaker of Plumwood Mountain, reports that early in December 2019, Plumwood Mountain escaped the Currowan fire, but between 18 and 20 December, as she writes, “the fire passed through the clearings around the Plumwood house and guesthouse, burning out the shed and either side of the whole length of track”. Approaching the house from the SE, the fire also burnt out “Val’s forest office, the lookout and the Brown Barrel (fastigata) understory of dicksonia, Monkey Vine and jackfruit and some of Val’s plantings on the escarpment side of the pool. When fire reached the house it burst the full plastic 3500 litre water tank. … The 1200 litre metal tank under the house eaves is intact and full of water.” Polypipe plumbing is also burnt and the house itself is without water. Basic maintenance has been undertaken to keep the rain water tank free from ash. There may be damage to some solar panels, a pump  and other hardware, though the house still has power from solar panels on the roof.

In the centre of the map from the Rural Fire Service Fires Near Me website is Monga and Plumwood Mountain is very slightly north east of there. The grey areas with black outline show burnt areas. Map as at 19 January 2020.

Anne Edwards reports further:

The ornamental garden that provided habitat, food and resources for birds in the garden is badly damaged. This garden was planted by Val with fire in mind. She choose high water content species that I think have played a role in preserving the house and parts of the lawn during this event. The Rhododendrons are particularly hardy and I expect they will survive. My hope is that the large cherry and the acers right next to the house will also survive. … The guesthouse is undamaged and the clearing there fared better than the house clearing. It is possible the chestnut grove might survive but Val’s older plantings of exotics along the fence line look in poor condition. The fenceline has been damaged in parts.

There is some good news:

The deep-rainforest valley remains lush and green. It’s a startling contrast to the blackened ground and understory on higher ground. Also parts of the Monga rainforest look intact. Hopefully, these places will provide some refuge for wildlife who have survived the fires. It is terrible though to think of the reptiles, spiders, insects and epiphytes that did not.

Wildlife support and recovery

As I mentioned above, Plumwood Incorporated committee members and friends are already working on wildlife support and recovery. With advice from NARG (Native Animal Rescue Group), they have a bought a start-up supply of food for the wildlife on Plumwood Mountain who survived the fires.

Many other wildlife in the region of the NSW South East fires have survived but are in need of care. If you would like to help, you can donate to NARG via their website http://narg.asn.au/

Writer Jackie French, a long-time friend and neighbour of Val’s, has faced the nearby fires and writes of her experience movingly and with a call to us all, “Do not forget”

 

 

In solidarity with all those still facing fires in their regions.

 

Anne Elvey

19 January 2020

 

With thanks to Anne Edward, Natasha Fjin and the Plumwood Inc committee for information on the fire situation in the area of Plumwood Mountain.



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