Love will find a way. Life too. Nature is resilient, and it always seems to find the strength to start over and recover.
Australian nature photographer Murray Lowe, 71, decided to capture its power after the terrible wildfires that destroyed his country. Lowe lives in Kulnura, New South Wales, which was the worst hit by the horrible fires.
He got his inspiration while driving past the Dharug National Park, a 14,850-hectare protected park that had been closed off due to fire threat.
Previously, the park was the home of fascinating flora and fauna, but now, it was reduced to charred dust.
The retired vehicle inspector said:
“The ground puffed up ash into the air from each footstep as we walked among the tree trunks in the eerie silence and stillness that only fires of this intensity can produce in the aftermath.”
Yet, in a Facebook post, he wrote:
“Even without any rain, life bursts through the burnt bark from the heart of the trees and the life cycle begins again.”
“This was the sign of renewal we had been seeking. We were witnessing the rebirth of a forest that Australia is so well-known for.”
Nature was determined to show that life must prevail, and the photos he took reveal green grass, maple, and rose-colored leaves bursting through the ashes, in the middle of the destruction.
Ants and other insects sucked on drops of water on the leaves, probably left by the light morning rain. Australians and the rest of the world were thrilled to see his photos that showed that Australia was ready to heal itself.
One Facebook user thanked Lowe for the photos and wrote:
“I think everyone is so happy to see your beautiful photos showing something positive after weeks of heartache—it gives us hope.”
“Thank you for sharing these Mr. Lowe! It’s so nice after all the tragedy to see the new growth in our bush.”
“I did not, in my wildest dreams, anticipate the overwhelming response to my photos that I’ve seen. It’s both humbling and heart-warming.”
To donate to wildlife relief, he is now selling prints of the photos.
Another photographer on the New South Wales Central Coast, Mary Voorwinde, 46, captured stunning photos of the new flora appearing in the fire-devastated areas too.
“I was overwhelmed in the way I saw nature just come to life after about three to four weeks. It was actually a sense of hope that I felt.
“There was one particular image which has all the charred bark on it and you can see the growth and the red bark which sits underneath it. It’s almost like a shell. That to me is a powerful image because that conveys nature’s resilience. In any catastrophe we build resilience. It was a message of hope.”
Dr. Kimberly Simpson, a fire ecology expert at the University of Sheffield, explained that many Australia-native species have been subjected to constant fires for millions of years, so they have adapted to it and evolved with the ability to quickly recover after being burnt.
She said that it is “common to see a rapid greening of the ground after fire” as light and nutrients released from the ashes are beneficial for the small seedlings.
Many scorched trees can recover after a while because epicormic buds found in many woody species lie dormant beneath the bark and are insulated from heat destruction. If the fire damages the outer and higher parts of the plant, these buds remain active and start shooting after some time.
Also, the roots of grasses and shrubs are protected by a layer of heat-resistant soil. Yet, Simpson is not certain if the miracles Lowe captured were caused by these phenomena, as there had been no rain.
The fires that kept raging since September were out of control, so she cannot predict the future of the ecosystems in other parts of Australia.
“We may see local extinctions in cases where species are pushed beyond their ability to recover.”
Most people worry about the effects of fires in the rainforests, as they don’t normally experience fire, and are mainly unable to recover after being burned.
Yet, remember, Nature might need time to regenerate, but it has incredible restorative power.