Excerpt from DW.com
On the small sandy paradise of Fraser Island, or K’gari, off the east coast of Australia, the indigenous Butchulla people have maintained the delicate ecosystem of the rainforest on the sand dunes with controlled fires — known as “cool burns” — for generations.
But there was nothing controlled about the enormous bushfire that began spreading across the island more than seven weeks ago. Believed to have been started by a tourist campfire in October, the blaze reached its peak this weekend when it tore through the island’s rainforest and forced many residents to evacuate their homes.
So far, the houses of the island’s 200 residents have been spared the flames — but the same cannot be said of the natural landscape on the World Heritage-listed island. Over half the rainforest — 8,500 square kilometers (3,282 square miles) according to dpa news agency — has been destroyed by the fires.
The devastation comes at the beginning of Australia’s wildfire period. Last year, in what became known as “Black Summer,” some of the most deadly and widespread fires the country has ever witnessed killed 1.25 billion animals according to conservation organization, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), burned houses to the ground and destroyed hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of bush.
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