Sunday 29 July 2018

Signs of life

With five posts in the space of  a week you would be forgiven for thinking that the title of this blog post was self-referential. Not to worry, there is little danger of that. But I did want to share a few photos that I took earlier today on a short walk around the SSSI - the part of Wanstead Flats that was the most severely burned. There are signs of life. I've been a little selective, there are still enormous swathes of pure black, but as we all knew after fire comes renewal, and in a way that can be very beautiful. One of my other hobbies (other than blogging) is growing plants. For certain of these, particularly those from Australia, fire is an essential part of the cycle of life, and is needed to stimulate reproduction. I have a cycad that was imported from Queenland many years ago which has a trunk that is entirely blackened from numerous grass fires. The trunk, formed from dead leaf bases, is impenetrable - fire sweeps through burning all in its path, possibly including the leaves of the plants, but the core plant itself is not damaged - this heat and the nutrients from the burned vegetation causes the plants to grow new leaves and seed cones. This sight of a blackened landscape with these incredible bright green flushes of new growth can be quite awesome. 

Wanstead Flats cannot boast anything quite as exciting, but the contrast between black and fresh green is still pretty magical. We had an absolute drenching on Friday evening, and as I type it is coming down again. I don't know whether it is this recent water or whether it was the damping down from the Fire Brigade that started the regeneration, but either way it looks wonderful and I found it extremely uplifting and am very encouraged. No birds yet of course, it is still a wasteland in that respect when in fact it should be buzzing with young warblers, and that is a crying shame. The low point has passed though, and we are on the up.

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