Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, April 14, 2006

Bodalla State Forest - plants at risk.

There are rare and unusual plants which survive in the Bodalla State Forest - but they are at great risk.

I wrote the other day of the policy of Forests NSW of burning the forest regularly (and often). That policy keeps the forest floor clear of too much "fuel". OK, understood.

However, that "fuel" is what makes up a real forest. It is the understorey of living plants, the key to "biodiversity" - the vast, diverse, rich regime of plants of different types which provide food, and shelter for all the birds and animals of the forest. A canopy of Eucalypt trees which stretches for 4o Kms in any direction is not necessarily a healthy forest.

If everything is burnt too often, eventually the seed bank of other species is exhausted, and the Eucalypts and Cycads which can regenerate after a fire will be the only plants left. (See top photo. An example of what I have referred to as a "treed desert". That is pretty much how this forest is being "managed".

Fire is natural within a forest like this. I accept that. What is at question is the repeated burning of forests before plants have had the chance to germinate after a fire, grow to maturity, flower and set seed successfully - all before the next scheduled "burn off". For many species that will be a minimum of seven years, maybe more.

There is a pocket-handkerchief sized patch of forest, called the Silvestris Flora Reserve which appears not to have been burnt too often (yet). I worry about its future, though. It is a patch of forest about 4 Square Kms. Sounds a lot? It could burn within a single hour, in a fierce bushfire.

It is surrounded by at least 40 Km by 40 Km of forest (1600 sq Km). OK, I know I have complained that this forest appears to have been over-burnt. They say that cool burns reduce the risk of hot fires - devastating "wild fires". Probably correct. But what guarantees are there that the patches of rare and endangered species which are hanging on, in these "token" Flora Reserves, will not also be burnt too often?

There are no signs proclaiming these Flora Reserves - just marks on obscure maps.

The Forest NSW website makes no mention of the particular site I referred to. I can find no literature about it. If they are really preserving rare and endangered plants, why not boast about the fine job they are doing? I would support that policy.

Just casually wandering around in this particular reserve, I found 3 varieties of plants which I could identify down to genus level (only), and which I cannot find on the "Plantnet" site from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney website (and they include rare and endangered plants on their data base). There were several other plants which I am totally unfamiliar with, which I can only guess at the genus, or family. Presumably the fact that it has been declared a "Flora Reserve" means that some botanists have at least reviewed the species which live there. But is that it? I have attached photos of a large growing Eriostemon (now Philotheca), which grows to about 4 metres tall (mostly they are small shrubs). Its typical "warty-looking" leaves and stems are visible on this photo. These are oil glands, and are totally typical of this genus.

Also, here is a photo of a distinctively grey-leaved Pomaderris.

If I can find plants like that in a cursory examination - here - but not elsewhere in the vast treed desert of the Bodalla, Dampier and Moruya State Forests, then this place really is a little gem within the bush. It really needs proper protection.


Addendum - written in Canberra at 11:00pm.

Owing to the Tyranny of Telstra's Thin, Thin Copper Wires on the far South Coast, the photographs which I alluded to are missing. I tried 4 times to upload photos to the blog (from Narooma, this morning) , and the process dropped out each and every time, before I lost patience. Nearly 45 minutes of frustration, for zero result. I shall try to remedy the situation tomorrow.

I hope Senator the Hon. Helen Coonan, Federal Minister for Communications, takes a holiday in Narooma soon, so she can experience first hand what Telstra's service in "the bush" is really like.

Incidentally, as far as Telstra is concerned, it seems "the bush" translates as everywhere outside of a major capital city. It has nothing to do with the great Aussie bushman, and other heroic legends. I has everything to do with maximising profits, by concentrating exclusively on the corporate "big spenders", in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and the politicians in Canberra. The rest of the country might as well not exist (well, nearly so, anyway. You know what I mean.)


Finally, the photos are posted! Going to sleep now. Sunday 1:15 am.

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