2015 – An opportunity for government goodwill to koalas

The 68th UN General Assembly has declared this year, 2015, the International Year of Soils (IYS). According to José Graziano da Silva Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation “ The International Year of Soils will help us pave the road towards sustainable development for all and by all.”

In Australia, the rural Soils for Life program, that ‘encourages regenerative landscape management practices to restore landscape health’ is strongly supportive of the IYS.

Down the scale, for native forest management, the Australian Forestry Standard indicates, “The forest manager shall manage forest operations to protect and maintain the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil and improve those properties where appropriate and reasonably practicable.”

Herein lies the problem, the Forestry Corporation is totally dependent on the EPA to set the rules, but the degree to which the EPA’s licence fulfills AFS requirements is at best uncertain.

Associated with soils is the AFS requirement that ” . . .The forest manager shall regenerate native vegetation with species and provenances native to the area, or from an equivalent locality, as far as reasonably practicable, to maintain local gene pools and species mixes.”

20yo trees

 

The first picture above is of a thick (read fire hazard), 20 year old Silver- top ash and Black forest oak regrowth stand in Brockelos creek catchment. The larger trees, retained during the logging, are mostly Silver-top ash. Although there is a retained stringy bark, no young stringy bark trees are present. In this case, it seems likely the soils have been modified, excluding the ability to maintain local gene pools and species mixes. The largest of the regrowth silver-top ash in the stand is less than 170mm diameter at breast height.

The second picture, taken a few klms away, by the Murrah river, is also of a 20 year old tree, a Maidens gum, although at 415mm DBH and nearly twice the height of the ash, growth at this location has clearly outstripped other areas, in this multivariate landscape. However, this tree grew from a seed germinated in a pot and planted at the location. Like the stringy bark in the logged forest, the mature Maidens gum, from which the seed was gathered, has no young maidens gum around it.

It’s most likely these changes are important for trees and koalas, and associated with the ‘fundamental roles of soils for human’s life’, given the remaining forests are the source of most peoples’ water supply .

With the next NSW state election due at the end of March, it seems an appropriate time for the OE&H show some goodwill and provide the growth rates of trees, planted on private land over at least the past 15 years, as part of its koala recovery actions. In the absence of this information it’s not possible to decide whether such activities are worthwhile, or whether funds may be more appropriately deployed toward sustainable management, at a landscape, rather than an individual property scale.

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