Australia has been struggling to contain bushfires that have destroyed at least 17 million hectares of land since they began in September 2019, leaving property and life lost, and countless individuals and families displaced. Iconic wildlife like the koalas and kangaroos are feared to have perished in the flames or have become roadkill, losing their habitat and food. About 33 people have died in the fires and towns have been evacuated, with thousands of people displaced. To support the displaced, the Australian government has announced AUD $2 billion ($1.36 billion USD) funding package to support recovery efforts.
Australia’s Bushfire Crisis Leaves Devastation in Its Wake
Australia is known for its vast and diverse landscape, including forests,
mountains, and oceans. Unfortunately, in recent months, this beauty has been
overshadowed by the devastating bushfires that have engulfed the continent.
According to the Australian government, these bushfires began in September
2019 and have continued to spread rapidly since then. The fires have caused immense
damage, including the loss of property, wildlife, and human lives, leaving
countless individuals and families displaced and heartbroken.
While the fires have been mostly extinguished by now, the devastation they have
caused will have a long-lasting impact on the country. Here’s what we know so far:
The Scope of the Crisis
The bushfires have been widespread and catastrophic, with flames engulfing more
than 17 million hectares (42 million acres) of land, equivalent to the size of Nepal.
This is three times the area of land affected by the Amazon fires, making
it one of the largest fire crises in modern history. The fires have been fueled by
extreme weather conditions such as high temperatures, strong winds, and severe drought.
Impacts on Wildlife
The bushfires have had a devastating impact on the country’s wildlife, Natures Organisations fear that many animals, including the iconic koalas and kangaroos, may have
perished in the flames. Kangaroos or marsupials are said to have become roadkills as all their habitat has been destroyed. Extensive habitat damage to species native to Australia’s east coast is an “unprecedented” event, that could affect the broader environment for years to come. Some animals, after enduring the flames, lost their homes and food source, leaving
them vulnerable to starvation and disease.
Impacts on Human Lives
As of January 2020, at least 33 people have died in the fires, including firefighters who
were trying to contain the blaze. Several towns have been evacuated, and thousands of
people have been displaced from their homes, leaving them in a state of shock and
uncertainty. Even those located miles away from the fire zones were affected by the
devastating air quality. Respiratory problems, increased medical needs, children showing severe symptoms to the change in air quality are some impacts left by it.
The bushfires have had a significant economic impact on the country as well. According
to the Insurance Council of Australia, the losses from these fires could surpass the
AUD $1.65 billion ($1.13 billion USD) in insurance claims for the Black Saturday bushfires
in 2009. The tourism industry is expected to take a hit, with many potential visitors
canceling their trips due to the fires.
What Can be Done?
The efforts of the volunteers- from civilians fighting the fire to ongoing national and international support – have been heroic. Thousands of people, including
firefighters from all over the world, have been working tirelessly to contain the fires.
Donations and aid from individuals, companies, and governments worldwide have been
pouring in, with many people pitching in to help the displaced and affected.
The Australian Government has assured that they are taking all the necessary measures
to support the fire-affected communities and rebuild the areas that have been damaged.
1. What caused the bushfires in Australia?
Bushfires are not uncommon in Australia, and they are often caused by lightning strikes or human action, along with various weather events such as drought, hot temperatures, and wind.
However, investigations have indicated that the majority of these fires were caused by people, either accidentally or intentionally.
2. How long will it take for Australia to recover from the bushfire crisis?
The recovery from the bushfire crisis will likely take years, and the effects of the fires will be felt for a long time. The government has already announced a AUD $2 billion ($1.36 billion USD) funding package to support recovery efforts.
3. How can we help those affected by the fires?
There are several ways to help, including donating to organizations such as the Australian Red Cross or WIRES, which helps rescue and rehabilitate animals affected by the fires, and supporting businesses affected by the fires by visiting and purchasing their products when it is safe to do so. However, it is essential to do your research before donating or supporting, as some scams have been reported in connection to the bushfires.