(CANBERRA, Australia) — Specialist firefighters have saved the world’s final remaining wild stand of a prehistoric tree from wildfires that razed forests west of Sydney, officers mentioned Thursday.
Firefighters winched from helicopters to achieve the cluster of fewer than 200 Wollemi Pines in a distant gorge within the Blue Mountains every week earlier than an enormous wildlife bore down, Nationwide Parks and Wildlife Service Director David Crust mentioned.
The firefighters arrange an irrigation system to maintain the so-called dinosaur timber moist and pumped water day by day from the gorge because the blaze that had burned uncontrolled for greater than two month edged nearer.
Firefighting planes strategically bombed the fireplace entrance with fireplace retardant to gradual its progress.
“That helped simply to gradual the depth of the fireplace because it approached the positioning,” Crust instructed Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“The Wollemi Pine is a very necessary species and the truth that that is the one place on this planet the place they exist and so they exist in such small numbers is absolutely vital,” he added.
New South Wales state Surroundings Minister Matt Kean mentioned the operation had saved the stand, though some crops had been singed.
“These pines outlived the dinosaurs, so after we noticed the fireplace approaching we realized we needed to do all the things we might to save lots of them,” Kean mentioned.
The Wollemi Pine had solely been seen in its fossilized kind and was thought lengthy extinct earlier than the stand was present in 1994.
The hearth that threatened it was introduced beneath management this week after razing greater than 510,000 hectares (1.26 million acres). The hearth additionally destroyed 90% of the 5,000-hectare (12,400-acre) Wollemi Nationwide Park, the place the uncommon timber develop, Crust mentioned.
The precise location of the stand stays a carefully guarded secret to assist authorities defend the timber.
The Wollemi’s survival is likely one of the few optimistic tales to emerge from the unprecedented wildlife disaster in southeast Australia.
The fires have claimed a minimum of 28 lives since September, destroyed greater than 2,600 properties and razed greater than 10.three million hectares (25.5 million acres), largely in New South Wales state. The realm burned is bigger than the U.S. state of Indiana.
However the fireplace hazard has been diminished by rain this week in a number of areas. The primary inexperienced buds of regrowth have already emerged in some blacked forests following rain.