Fires, surveys and Federal oversight

Yesterday I had a look at the area burned, in line with the NPWS’s internal and unseen koala protocols, along the edge of Nutleys Creek Road in Biamanga NP. It’s likely this area was lit early in the day before the northeasterly wind picked up and their luck containing the fire to ‘back up’ containment lines was largely due to the stronger northwesterly winds not appearing till late in the day.

Like most commercial forests transferred to NP, the area has been heavily logged in the past, so the canopy of large trees is discontinuous, most trunks have been scorched to several metres high, many are dead and much of the area is occupied by smaller regrowth eucalyptus and lots of black forest oak.

It takes a week or so for leaves to turn brown but it is clear that a large proportion of leaves on small trees have been scorched and when they drop off the contiuous ground cover the fire is intended to remove, will largely re-establish.

The large Woollybutt stump in the photo was a hollow bearing tree that had been cut down and bulldozed downslope, where it was still smoldering.

OE&H Regional Coordinator  Mike Saxton has responded, re the koala sighting, requesting I mail him some scats, that they send to Sydney Uni and indicating they will be targeting the area with their federally funded koala surveys.

One issue is whether the purpose of the surveys is just to spin out the federal biodiversity funding in the hope koalas become extinct, so that the generally reckless business as usual is not disrupted too much.

Curiously some pro-burning social commentators are proposing that every tree a koala has ever been in should be protected, although the tree the mum koala went up was a black forest oak, a non commercial species that readily dies in a fire.

According to the Biodiversity Fund funding agreement the objectives are to –
(a) help maintain ecosystem function and increase ecosystem resilience to climate change; and
(b) increase and improve the management of biodiverse carbon stores across the country.

So I’ll mention these concerns and objectives to Mike Saxton, but expect the funding body may be more receptive.


What remains -post burn- of a koala feed and habitat tree

Canopy scorch in small trees, three days post fire


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