Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students explore the process of ecosystem regeneration after a bushfire. They begin by defining key terms before looking at the adaptations Australian flora and fauna have to bushfires. Based on this information, they then explore the concept of ecological succession by working in groups to create a drawing of how flora regenerates after a bushfire. They then add further information to speculate on how and when fauna would reenter the recovering ecosystem. Finally, students create a final version of their succession model.

In partnership with The Conversation, the Beyond the Bushfires series brings the words of scientists who are actively involved in research and science communication into classrooms throughout Australia. Students will explore evidence-based research embedded in the context of real-world practice.

Additional thanks to the Ian Potter Foundation, John T Reid Charitable Trusts and The Myer Foundation, for generously supporting the development of these lessons.

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand what succession is
  • Students recognise how flora and fauna are adapted to bushfires.

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCritical ThinkingProblem SolvingTeam Work                

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 9 Science:

  • Ecosystems consist of communities of interdependent organisms and abiotic components of the environment; matter and energy flow through these systems (ACSSU176)
  • Scientific understanding, including models and theories, is contestable and is refined over time through a process of review by the scientific community (ACSHE157)
  • Use knowledge of scientific concepts to draw conclusions that are consistent with evidence (ACSIS170)
  • Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations (ACSIS174)

Syllabus outcomes: SC5-14LW, SC5-12ES, SC5-7WS, SC5-9WS.

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.2, OI.3.

Relevant parts of Year 9 Science achievement standards: Students analyse how biological systems function and respond to external changes with reference to interdependencies, energy transfers and flows of matter. They use appropriate language and representations when communicating their findings and ideas to specific audiences.

Topics: Climate Change, The Conversation, Beyond the Bushfires, Sustainability.

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work Beyond the Bushfires – Secondary.

Time required: 120+ mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion, lead students in activities.

Resources required:

Keywords: bushfires, plants, animals, adaptations, succession, regeneration, Flora, Fauna, Fire resource.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... understand what succession is
  • ... recognise how flora and fauna are adapted to bushfires.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... know what succession is and how a habitat might regenerate after a bushfire
  • ... create a succession model to show the process of succession after a bushfire
  • ... undertake and communicate research in support of their model
  • ... work independently and collaboratively
  • ... think critically about research and reflect on their findings.

Teacher content information: This lesson uses the Flora, Fauna Fire resource from The Conversation. This resource examines and describes the impacts of the Black Summer bushfires on native flora and fauna species.

Important: Talking about bushfires often involves addressing sensitive issues. Bushfires are innately linked to death and dying, and as such, may evoke strong emotions, opinions, or raise challenging questions about values and beliefs tha

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: How have humans adapted to bushfires?

Activating Prior Knowledge

Work independently to have a go at answering the following questions, recording your answers in column A of the table below:

  Column A - Your answer Column B - Any new ideas 
What is adaptation?
What is an ecosystem?
What is ecosystem regeneration?
What is ecological succession?
What is primary succession?
What is secondary succession?

You can then turn to a partner to share and discuss your thoughts. Add any new ideas to column B of the table.

Adaptation to Fire

Read the How Have Plants Adapted To Bushfires? - Factsheet and watch this clip and work independently to identify your own responses to the following prompts:

1. Three facts about eucalyptus trees and bushfires




2. Three facts about other plants and bushfires




After the Fire - Fauna

1. Read this article and watch this clip and work in your g

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