In response to some of David Shoebridge’s questions, about funding for the new Flora reserves and what the $2.5 million from the Environmental trust will be spent on. The NSW government has provided the following two answers,
1. The total additional funding allocated to the new Flora Reserves is $110,000 per annum ($2015-16).
2. The $2.5 million grant is to be allocated for additional costs associated with providing the timber from alternative locations.
Whether the $110k reflects a portion of the 2015-16 financial year, or total funding per annum isn’t clear. Similarly what it’s to be spent on is yet to be revealed.
Where the $2.5 million goes is also unclear. While the only apparent additional costs would seem to be haulage, it is possible that logs may also need be sourced and bought from private forest owners.
Other questions will be answered in May.
Back in the flora reserve, non funded on ground works are ready to begin, with a trial aimed at addressing forest decline. Starting with Bell-minor associated die-back, the trial won’t be following
the general recommendation for applying bio-char to agricultural lands, one tonne per hectare.
Rather ,an initial application of one cubic metre of bio-char per hectare will be trialled. This is about one third of a tonne per hectare.
As indicted in graphic (inset) most of the forest around its perimeter, at upper elevations, have the same dry forest ecosystem (brown bits . Lower in the catchment, areas subject to BMAD (red circle) and forests above them are wetter. The plan is to bury half a cubic metre, at points on a 4 metre grid (one litre of char per hole) and at a depth safe from fire. The remainder will spread on the ground over the rest of the area.
A similar approach is proposed for dry forest without BMAD but with a 5 metre grid, putting a little less in the ground.
Even after being inoculated, in this case with ‘aqua-vita’, the bio-char is quite alkaline, having a pH of 8.5. In theory its application may marginally increase the soil pH from the current 5.5 and lower. Should this occur it may help to counter, at least to some degree, the negative environmental impacts associated with soil dispersion, including BMAD.