Kristen Lyons' contribution to Contact's Rising from the Ashes: The Long Road to Recovery

8 Feb 2021

After Australia's devastating bushfires over the 2019–2020 summer, Contact Magazine asked UQ experts: what are the first steps needed for the nation to recover from the bushfire crisis, and how do we best prepare ourselves for future natural disasters?

"The impacts of Australia’s 2019–20 fire season devastated ecologies and communities. At least 7.7 million hectares were burnt, and the lives of an estimated 1 billion creatures were lost. Australia’s summer bushfires were fuelled by the hottest and driest conditions ever recorded. With climate change intensifying extreme bushfire events, last year’s fire season and its devastating losses provide a window into our future. Australian food and agriculture industries – and the communities that support them – were among those devastated by the bushfires. This included widescale destruction of farms, crops and farm animals, as well as loss and damage to critical farming infrastructure, such as roads and storage facilities. Affected rural and regional communities have also borne the brunt of trauma alongside such losses, with Indigenous communities profoundly affected by the destruction of places central to culture and belonging. Rebuilding resilient and sustainable food systems after Australia’s summer bushfires requires reimagining the future within the context of our climate emergency, to which extreme bushfires are a symptom. Such reimagining should include policy and planning supports to expand those agri-food systems that centre ecological diversity and low carbon emissions, including agro-ecological and organic farming systems. It should also include support for shorter – and therefore less vulnerable – supply chain distribution models that connect producers and consumers, as well as models that capture the true cost of food. Importantly, local communities should also be enabled to play a key role in shaping climate-smart agri-food futures."

- Professor Kristen Lyons, School of Social Science

Read the full article here.