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These images show Wyperfeld National Park, Victoria, in southeastern Australia. The park is native shrubland—the Australian “bush”—and appears in the Landsat images in dark tones. Grazing land appears pink, and cropland is a green-yellow pattern. Fires occur in the park almost every year, leaving huge fire scars: bright, bared earth that quickly regrows.

This area’s dry climate lies between wet coastal forest and interior desert. Within these images, the Wimmera River flows from the wetter south to the drier north, where it dies in a chain of lakes. In these Landsat images, the southernmost lake (Lake Hindmarsh) is always filled, the northernmost (Lake Agnes) is always dry, and the middle lake (Lake Albacutya) is wet in 1977 but dry thereafter, having last filled from 1974 to 1982.

Before European settlement, this region was near-forest—shrubs and small trees growing in varying density—with an understory of shrubs or grass. From the 1840s on, much of this bush was burned off to clear land for farming. Forested area (including shrubland) decreased in this region of Australia from an estimated 90% in 1869 to only 30–40% by 1987. Wheat yields in this region were high, so people tried farming even the areas with poorer or sandier soils. Crop failure in these sandy areas gave Wyperfeld the deceptive name “the Big Desert.” These sandy areas can be seen in the Landsat images as sand ridges in the park and as pink areas outside the parks, representing grazing land.

Imagery

Every picture has a story to tell
Sept. 19, 1977, Landsat 2 (path/row 101/85) — Wyperfeld National Park, Australia
Sept. 21, 1987, Landsat 5 (path/row 95/85) — Wyperfeld National Park, Australia
Aug. 21, 1999, Landsat 5 (path/row 95/85) — Wyperfeld National Park, Australia
Oct. 6, 2004, Landsat 5 (path/row 95/85) — Wyperfeld National Park, Australia
Aug. 23, 2011, Landsat 5 (path/row 95/85) — Wyperfeld National Park, Australia
Oct. 10, 2017, Landsat 8 (path/row 95/85) — Wyperfeld National Park, Australia
Oct. 2, 2020, Landsat 8 (path/row 95/85) — Wyperfeld National Park, Australia
Oct. 2, 2020, Landsat 8 (path/row 95/85) — Wyperfeld National Park, Australia

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References

Australian Surveying and Land Information Group, 1990, Atlas of Australian Resources—Volume 6, Vegetation: Canberra, Commonwealth Government Printer.

Boughton, V.H., 1970, A survey of the literature concerning the effects of fire on the forests of Australia: Pymble, New South Wales, Harvard Press, 40 p.

Collett, N., 1995, Effects of two spring fires on epigeal Coleoptera in dry sclerophyll eucalypt forest in Victoria, Australia: Forest Ecology and Management, v. 76, p. 69–85.

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, 1960, The Australian Environment: London, Cambridge University Press.

Durham , G., 2001, Wyperfeld—Australia's First Mallee National Park: Elsternwick, Victoria, Friends of Wyperfeld National Park, available online at https://issuu.com/vnpa/docs/wyperfeld-australia_s_first_mallee_national_park-7.

Graetz, D., Fisher, R., and Wilson, M., 1992, Looking Back—the Changing Face of the Australian Continent, 1972-1992: Canberra, CSIRO, 159 p.

Loane, I.T., and J.S. Gould, 1986, Aerial Suppression of Bushfires—Cost-Benefit Study for Victoria: Canberra, CSIRO Publishing, 296 p.

McKnight, T., 1970, Australia’s Corner of the World—a Geographical Summation: Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall.

Parks Victoria, [n.d.], Wyperfeld National Park, Web page at http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/wyperfeld-national-park. (Accessed March 22, 2012.)

Pyne, S., 1991, Burning Bush—A Fire History of Australia: New York, Henry Holt.

Robinson, K.W., 1960, Australia, New Zealand and the Southwest Pacific: London, University of London Press, 340 p.

Rule, A., 1967, Forests of Australia: Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 213 p.

Scott, M., 2008, Wyperfeld National Park: NASA Earth Observatory, available online at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=8962. (Accessed March 22, 2012.)

Serventy, V., 1969, Australia's National Parks—Landforms, Plants, Animals Revealed through Nature Reserves: Sydney, Angus and Robertson.

UNEP, 2005, Grasslands—Wyperfeld National Park, Australia, in One planet, many people—atlas of our changing environment: Nairobi, Kenya, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), p. 226–227.

Wild Australia—A Recreational Guide to All Our National Parks, 1988, Sydney.

Woodgate, P., and Black, P., 1988, Forest Cover Changes in Victoria, 1869–1987: East Melbourne, Dept. of Conservation, Forests and Lands, 31 p.

Thanks to David Martin and the rest of the staff of Wyperfeld National Park for their assistance.

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