To Canberra's west, among the Brindabella Ranges, forest soils are still potentially recovering from the effects of a devastating bushfire.
That bushfire may not be the deadly 2003 Canberra bushfires but the Black Friday fire which saw huge sections of the ACT, along with Victoria and NSW, go up in smoke on January 13, 1939.
New research from the Australian National University has shown that forest soils take several decades to recover from the effects of bushfires or logging, more than half a century longer than scientists originally thought.
By studying alpine soil samples in Victorian mountain ash forests, researcher Elle Bowd and her colleagues Sam Banks, Craig Strong and Professor David Lindenmayer discovered the effects of bushfires which took place as far back as 80 years ago were still being felt in forest soil.
Ms Bowd said the team was surprised by what they found.
"That was really unprecedented," Ms Bowd said.
"The long-lasting impacts of disturbance that we saw can affect the function of the forest."
Scientists originally believed forests could recover within 10 to 15 years after bushfires or logging, but this new research showed forests needed much more time to recover.
"It's really important to us to use that information to advise management and policy," Ms Bowd said.
Bushfires and logging robbed soils of important nutrients like phosphorus and nitrates, which are essential for plant growth, she said.
Ms Bowd's colleague Professor Lindenmayer said that, after the oceans, forests were the second biggest stores of the planet's carbon dioxide.
The effects of climate change and human disturbance will mean Australian forests will have less time to recover from more frequent bushfires or logging, hampering forest growth and seeing more carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
"The effects of fires will last at least 80 years. The effects of logging, at least 30 years," Professor Lindenmayer said.
"The length of impact is something that really shocked us ... it's really quite gobsmacking. We had no idea the effect would be so substantial."
The lack of plant life would also mean reduced habitats for Australia's native animals, including the critically endangered Leadbeater's possum.
Ms Bowd said the effects would be even worse in areas affected by both logging and multiple fires.
Professor Lindenmayer said land-management policies needed to consider the new research and reduce further human disturbance, including logging.
Victoria's mountain ash forests generate nearly all of the water for Melbournians, with similar trees in Canberra's national parks also responsible for the capital's clean drinking water.