The journal Nature has published the results of ‘genetic blueprint’ studies undertaken on Eucalyptus grandis, aka flooded gum, native to coastal areas north of Sydney. The purpose of the studies was to identify the genes controlling tree growth, wood formation, flowering, and other qualities. The aim is to assist in the development of future biomass crops, and improve understanding of eucalyptus response to environmental change.
Flooded gum is grown across the world and can grow very quickly. In the past, Forestry have claimed seedlings have put on 7 metres (23 ft) of growth in their first year. The species occurs on ‘flats or lower slopes, preferring moist, well drained, deep soils of alluvial or volcanic origin’. Koala primary eucalyptus feed trees also grow in these catchment discharge areas, and depending on what is happening in recharge areas, they can also preferred Bell-miner habitat, when soils become sodic, and retain too much moisture.
While the BMAD issue was referred to in the NSW government’s ‘IFOA-remake’ discussion paper, it was also claimed submissions would be made publicly available, but that hasn’t happened. However, as a landscape based approach to the Threatened Species Licence conditions is proposed, it seems important to be aware of the different ideas about what this means.
For example, in its submission to the remake, and in addition to a photo showing what is now considered to be ‘high quality’ sawlogs (good grief !), the Institute of Foresters of Australia (IFA) indicated ‘ The landscape based approach will require a significant component of process transparency and reporting in order to win public support.’
While fully agreeing with the sentiment, the issue is how to achieve this end.
The map above, centers on Biamanga and Gulaga NP’s (green hatch), other NP’s and catchment boundaries overlaying the Murrah soil landscape . The term ‘landscape’, is more appropriately applied to soil landscapes, of which there are many in the catchments, but only the one on the map has forests with koalas.
Clearly in this case, Aboriginal and private land forms a significant proportion of the area, and along with the local community, the management board should be significant stakeholders in the process.
Despite a further attempt, SERCA is yet to indicate its support for changed management practices, re-introducing native species, or a catchment approach to management. Coupled with this ambiguity is the uncertainty around SRCA’s input into the management board, via Councilor Keith Hughes, representing Bega Shire Council.
On a positive note, my experience with local Aboriginals suggests their commitment to the environment has little ambiguity. They have a proven record of supporting approaches that are consistent with maintaining and improving their/our cultural heritage, and I’m sure prefer a transparent approach.