Mistletoe blessings and pagan desires

Few things are more pleasing than research that challenges traditional perceptions and reports on the outcomes of mistletoe studies should do just that. Previously considered to be just a parasite, an understanding of the benefits mistletoe brings to other species, due to their extravagant use of resources, is high on the list of critically important functions in the ‘forest food web’.

The study, undertaken by Dr David Watson aka ‘the mistletoe guy’ also provides another argument against FNSW’s claims that mistletoe is a result of not enough burning.

In their generally contradictory submission to the ‘Inquiry into the Management of Public Land in NSW’, clearly aimed at legitimizing their non-compliance, the NSW Forest Products Association argues that the NPWS doesn’t do enough burning and suppression of wildfires is quicker in State Forests. Their idea, naturally enough given they’ve run out of timber, is to open up NPs for logging and given what grows back frequently isn’t eucalyptus, to use whatever is there to generate electricity.

The FPA argue that having Australian Forest Standard certification should be enough, because they “manage forests to look after all the environment, habitat, biodiversity, water catchments, landscapes; We have done this since early settlement and we can now get the benefits of carbon sequestration and reduced energy consumption.”

To be fair the submission was put together before the AFS failed to ratify their revised standard, where there is no mention of catchments or soil landscapes. However, one of their suggestions is to reduce the size of buffers along watercourses, the most numerous being first order streams where they propose –

” . . . Exclusion (hard buffers) as 5 m. on all streams provides adequate protection of stream channels, protects from erosion entering the stream bed and retains trees within those zones. Additional protection (soft buffers) on 1st order streams is unwarranted. The catchment size and slope of such streams is the relevant issue and is rarely large enough at this order to warrant additional protection.”

Problems with this statement and why the Environment Protection Licence has always been inadequate are demonstrated in the map below of the exclosure sub-catchment with total area of about 180ha. Indicated are current watercourse buffers and their catchment areas with those of mapped first order streams occupying 68% (122 ha.) of the area, second order 24% (42.8ha.) and third order 8% (14.2ha).

Of course these figures do not include unmapped watercourses but the FPA have an overarching definition ‘a permanent flow’ which would eliminate the need for most buffers, except during very wet weather.




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