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These Photos Show What Happens When Fires Burn Through A Million-Year-Old Forest

"The impact of the fire will last for thousands of years."

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Photographer Dan Broun visited the Central Plateau Conservation Park in northern Tasmania to witness for himself the extensive damage caused by recent bushfires.

Dan Broun

The wilderness photographer from Hobart deliberately entered the fire zone five days after the fire subsided to find what he described to BuzzFeed as a "post-apocalyptic scene".

The bushfire, which started when lightning struck the area on January 13, had been burning out-of-control for a week.

#TasFires Lightning strikes spark more blazes after rain fails to douse flames https://t.co/wfJi2eJpkK

The fire continued to spread for days despite the rains, as firefighters struggled to keep up with the 50 spotfires burning in the region.

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Following the fires, an estimated 11,000 hectares of a forest that has been in existence since the cretaceous period burnt down.

Dan Broun

Fire ecologist professor David Bowman told the Sydney Morning Herald the affected area in the Central Plateau, which has survived some 100 million years, since the time of the supercontinent of Gondwana, might not recover from the fire.

"While there are ancient ecosystems in other parts of what was once Gondwana that survive in a climate similar to Tasmania's west, none are the same. It does not regenerate after fire in the way a eucalypt forest does. When it is lost, it is likely to be lost for good. If it does recover, it is likely to take more than a millennium."

...And this is what it looks like now.

Dan Broun

"The pencil pine trees photographed above are up to 1500 years old for the larger specimens. This is a remote area with no community for 30-40km," Broun told BuzzFeed.

There are just a few signs of life left in the national park.

Broun is also an avid bushwalker. "When I visited five days after the fire subsided, all I saw were burned ground, peat soils burned, everything was dead. It was highly distressing and a shock for the first few hours. Even now, weeks after, I still think about it with deep sadness and grief."

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