An ancient grove of pine trees whose ancestors are thought to have stood tall among dinosaurs some 200 million years ago has been saved from Australian bushfires in a covert firefighting mission.
NSW firefighters have saved the last of the so-called "dinosaur trees" remaining in the wild after dousing the Wollemi National Park with fire retardant and laying an irrigation system during the recent bushfire crisis.
But the highly co-ordinated rescue mission to keep back the Gospers Mountain mega-blaze has mostly been kept a secret so the pines' location is not given away.
The giant prehistoric trees were thought to be extinct until 1994, but then authorities found 200 of them in a national park near the Blue Mountains north-west of Sydney.
The fire, which was this week finally brought under control after two-and-a-half months, ripped through more than 512,000 hectares north-west of Sydney.
To prevent the historic grove from facing the same fate as much of Australia's wildlife, firefighters dropped fire retardant, employed water-bombing aircraft, and were helicoptered into a remote area to set up irrigation to increase moisture content.
"Losing it would have added to the catastrophe we have seen elsewhere", he said.
"Illegal visitation remains a significant threat to the Wollemi Pines survival in the wild due to the risk of trampling regenerating plants and introducing diseases which could devastate the remaining populations and their recovery", Kean said.
A helicopter is pictured flying over the Wollemi National Park. A few trees were lost, but a remaining 200 survived, per the Herald.
Up to 30mm is predicted for parts of the south coast however falls are expected to be patchy due to associated thunderstorms.
Aging the trees is hard, but they could be up to 100,000 years old.
The Darkinyung Local Aboriginal Land Council inspected bush land on Wednesday for the first time since the Three Mile Fire ripped through the area.
"Big old trees are now just black stumps attached to the ground". In saying that, it did get heavily hit but it did [failry] good compared to other areas. So they've put suckers out from the base of the tree all the way up and it's new growth three weeks after a wildfire went through there'.
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