Forestry

Two Tasmanians at dinner and the discussion turned to forestry. Tasmania has been debating for years about how to proceed with the wood pulping. Protests and controversial approval of logging in new and old growth forests.

On the other side of the world it is spring.

I drove through Thetford forest and couldn’t help pulling over. I jumped out of the car and wandered off through the trees. The beeches have their early leaves and they are such a bright light green. I tried so hard to capture them in the photos, but they are pitiful compared to the reality. As you wander along, your entire surrounding shimmers with this fantastic light.

I am reminded of a book I read on a man who had studied forestry and then discovered the Białowieża Forest which straddles the borders of Poland and Belarus. He now spends his days wandering the primeval forest, observing, and coming to the conclusion that everything he learnt in forestry was wrong.

It seems, without human interference and forestry science, forests do very well on their own. The number of species there, on all levels, is remarkable. The amount of species found nowhere else but the untouched Polish forest…

But in Australia. We burn. We have Eucalyptus trees and they are nasty.

So we clear the littered branches and leaves and burn off as often and as little as we can.

But what then happens? The rejuvenation of forests after a fire shows that the dominant species that returns is… eucalyptus.

Are we helping to cover our entire country with the one species of tree that works as a fire lighter?

My great uncle worked in the Victorian Parliament. Apparently he is the reason Victoria is the only Australian state that has a whole Arbor Week dedicated to tree planting. He apparently also oversaw the planting of evergreen trees through some areas of bush to slow fire spread.

I feel like we may have been outsmarted by a tree and are now trapped in a cycle which benefits the dominance of a tree species, but kills biodiversity and endangers human lives.

Could we make agreements with the wood pulp mills on some level and give them access to young gum trees in return for them sustainably maintaining vast areas of beech, oak, willow and other trees that would not encourage fire?

(Pardon to the koalas for this note)

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