Dead trees in the high country

Submitted: Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 12:30
ThreadID: 131500 Views:4439 Replies:8 FollowUps:18
This Thread has been Archived
We had our first trip through the NSW & Victorian high country in December and I was amazed to see hundreds of kilometres of white, dead, mature trees.

One explanation is that discontinued burning from aboriginees and, later, high country stockmen made the inevitable bushfires hot enough to destroy them. But there seem to be no burn marks on the dead trees.

Another is that a localised tree infection was carried from place to place by vehicles.

Does anyone know what killed them?
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Member - Boobook - Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 12:49

Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 12:49
Depending on where you were when you saw the trees, the 2003, 2006 and later the 2013 fires around Bright fires got really hot and totally killed the trees. There hasn't been any regrowth in many parts at all.

The east side of Mt Blue Rag for example looks quite ghostly. What is left is quite white.

The worst fires were before the cattle were taken out of the High Country. Just bloody hot fires.
AnswerID: 595658

Follow Up By: Member - Ups and Downs - Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 12:54

Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 12:54
I'm curious - how does a fire leave white trees?

Paul
0
FollowupID: 864340

Follow Up By: Sigmund - Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 13:05

Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 13:05
Mountain Ash has a thin bark and basically the fire's heat boiled the sap. Thicker bark provides more insulation and those trees with it have half a chance of surviving.

2003 fatalities have had the dead bark flake off by now and you get the silver trunks.

Snow Gums go the same way but they have a big rhizome and shoots grow from that. That makes old walking tracks a bit of a bush bash.
1
FollowupID: 864341

Follow Up By: Ken - Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 14:13

Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 14:13
Sigmund is spot on re tree damage and there are no burns evident as the bark and all signs of fire are gone.
Fires now are certainly much much hotter due to massive fuel loads accumulating on the forest floor. This fuel and an understorey of woody weeds and scrub leads to an increase on flame height which more easily ignites the oil laden foliage and makes fires near impossible to stop without extensive dozing of breaks and a lot of luck with weather.
Speaking to old timers, cattlemen, walkers and prospectors, they tell of being able to see through the trees and being able to take sightings on prominent features such as a really big tree or a distant mountain to travel through what was then un-mapped country.
As for cattle grazing the high country it was the burning of all the rubbish by cattlemen to promote pasture that kept the country safe any minimal if any control by cattle grazing.
Just putting cattle back up there would benefit places like Wonangatta where grass is a major fuel component but they don't eat sticks and I can't see DEPI letting anyone do their own burning. It has probably got to a stage now that the fuel loads and limits on controlled burns and reluctance on the part of many land managers to do any burns if they can avoid it, that we will keep seeing massive uncontrollable fires continue to happen.
5
FollowupID: 864347

Follow Up By: Member - Ups and Downs - Sunday, Jan 31, 2016 at 10:05

Sunday, Jan 31, 2016 at 10:05
Thanks for the informative response. We never stop learning.
Paul
0
FollowupID: 864398

Follow Up By: mountainman - Sunday, Jan 31, 2016 at 13:46

Sunday, Jan 31, 2016 at 13:46
You can thank the greens for that.
funny how they win over the city folk and get elected in, yet in country areas they dont get much of a run ;-)
City folk dont see their stupid policies out in the real world. ..that vote for them. ..
4
FollowupID: 864419

Reply By: Erad - Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 14:54

Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 14:54
It was the fires of 2003. They were utterly savage. Many years of no grazing in the high country meant that the grassy areas had been overtaken by bushes, and they helped in fuelling the major fires. It will happen again. In the late 1980's there was a nasty fire around Cabramurra. All the trees were charred, but after a while, the burnt bark seemed to drop off, leaving stark white skeletons which you saw. Over 10 years later, a few of the skeletons got some fuzz growing back on the higher limber and trunks - not too many trees, but a few. Within a year, they had sprouted new foliage and were growing very well, until the 2003 fires and they got hit again. They probably won't recover this time. Huge areas of the Snowy Mountains, Namadji (ACT) and the Victorian high country have been decimated by these fires. OK - I imagine that it is difficult to manage these areas to stay in a natural state, but small fires were always a part of the environment a long time ago. Now, huge Alpine Ash trees (over 30 m high) and others such as snow gums which do not regenerate after fire have been destroyed. They don't call the NPWS the National Sparks & Wildfire Service for nothing...
AnswerID: 595662

Follow Up By: Sigmund - Sunday, Jan 31, 2016 at 11:07

Sunday, Jan 31, 2016 at 11:07
It was only a few years ago, in Vic under Bracks, that grazing leases were cancelled (and cattlemen given $100 per beast compensation) in the remaining section open to it in the Alpine NP. In Kosi NP grazing was ended in 1958 - to protect water quality. That plus careful rehab have restored the delicate alpine ecology to something like its former glory.

In the highest montane areas of our NPs in a number of areas burning off was banned because of the risk to ski resorts. (Only a change of wind direction saved Hotham in 2003.)
0
FollowupID: 864405

Follow Up By: tim_c - Friday, Feb 05, 2016 at 09:46

Friday, Feb 05, 2016 at 09:46
Huge areas of dead trees is "something like its former glory"? Perhaps we should be improving it again by allowing grazing and controlled burns rather than decimating it with wildfires to "something like its former glory"
0
FollowupID: 864688

Follow Up By: Sigmund - Friday, Feb 05, 2016 at 10:05

Friday, Feb 05, 2016 at 10:05
In Vic there's over a hundred studies and reports on Alpine grazing that show the damage it does to the ecosystem - erosion, damage to moss beds, weed spread and degradation of waterways and water quality.

It's still the case though that much Alpine grazing occurs outside of the NPs and there was always more of that in area terms than inside.
0
FollowupID: 864692

Reply By: Member - Rosco from way back - Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 17:31

Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 17:31
When we were there in 2004 the locals were firmly of the opinion it was mis-management by the powers that be. The same thing happened on the Prom. No controlled burns to reduce the fuel level on the forest floor so when a fire eventually happened the heat was so intense it virtually sterilised the soil to a depth of a few metres and killed all the seeds.
The Prom fire was a controlled burn which got out of hand, again due to an excess of ground fuel.
They blamed the gov and the greenies.
AnswerID: 595666

Follow Up By: Shaker - Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 20:22

Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 20:22
They should have blamed lack of supervision!

0
FollowupID: 864360

Reply By: Ozi M - Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 19:37

Saturday, Jan 30, 2016 at 19:37
I have about 30 gumtrees on my block and they perpetually drop leaves, twigs and small branches, so much so that I take a trailer full to the dump most months.

Imagine the millions of bits and pieces that accumulate over 10 or 20 years now that no "burning off" happens.

So sad to see our animals and bush being deliberately slaughtered by idiots who rarely even go there.

If you read the early explorer diaries they write of riding a horse at the gallop under towering gum trees, no scrub or bush around at all, just native grasses and large trees.

The aboriginals found it hard to run through scrub with a 4m spear in their hands
AnswerID: 595670

Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Jan 31, 2016 at 14:19

Sunday, Jan 31, 2016 at 14:19
I think your question of what killed them has been answered, Keith.

What your observation means to me is that, as a frequent visitor to High Country tracks, carrying a chainsaw is almost mandatory.

These dead ghosts are now regularly falling and blocking tracks. I was always reluctant to carry a chainsaw because of weight, space and another type of fuel to fit in somewhere. I was recently convinced otherwise when I went up a one-way track without a problem but a few hours later on the way out was blocked by a fallen tree. It was small enough to drag out of the way with the vehicle, but it demonstrated the potential for something more serious to happen.

After reading about 36V cordless chainsaws on this site I bought one - a Victa 40V 16" bar. I have to carry a charger and small inverter, but at least they can be carried inside under a seat - unlike 2 stroke fuel.

Cheers
FrankP

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message
Moderator

AnswerID: 595711

Follow Up By: Malcom M - Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 09:49

Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 09:49
Would love some feedback on how effective it is.

How long does it cut fro before the battery dies?
How long to charge from flat?
0
FollowupID: 864468

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 11:51

Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 11:51
Malcolm,

Some manufacturer info here.

I bought a kit (saw, battery and charger) from Bunnings for $499.Details

There is a new 80V model with an 18" bar that has a higher chain speed, etc, but how far do you go? Their price of $339 is saw only. You'd have to add a battery and charger for another $326, total $665.

I haven't had the opportunity yet to test it fully but I read somewhere for the 40V model 120 cuts per charge. But what's a standard cut? There's a big difference between a 6" green softwood log and a 12" dead hardwood log.

Charge time is 2 hours.

Cheers



FrankP

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message
Moderator

1
FollowupID: 864473

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 11:59

Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 11:59
Malcolm,

Do a search on posts by member Robin Miller. Pretty sure he mentioned using one on his bush block, during past year or two.

Bob

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 864475

Reply By: 9900Eagle - Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 07:42

Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 07:42
Keith,
Up around Jindabyne and Cabramurra it is the eucalyptus (or gum tree) weevil and not fires that have done the damage. You can see dead white trees for Kilometers across the mountains.

AnswerID: 595750

Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 12:32

Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 12:32
Greenies will get blamed for the weevil too... ;-)
0
FollowupID: 864477

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 14:09

Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 14:09
Read some years back where Bellbirds were being blamed for spreading eucalyptus Dieback. Apparently "they" were culling these little fellars in some areas in NSW?

Good name, 9900eagle! :-) Spent a few hours in some of them, 5 or 6 years ago. Not a bad old lorry.

Bob

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

1
FollowupID: 864483

Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 15:14

Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 15:14
Bob, I used too be slow but for some reason exploroz decided it didn't recognise my email anymore and wouldn't let me log in, so I had to use a new email address and name.

I have a very big soft spot for Inters, even though they were always known as the poor mans Kenworth.

1
FollowupID: 864486

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 22:22

Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 22:22
No worries, Slow. Thought you might have been travelling........

Used to be a strong Inter clientele around Winton years ago. There's a few rebuilt examples up in the truck museum. The Eagles weren't too bad. In fact had a few specs that the more expensive brands should be including.

Bob

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 864509

Reply By: Member - Iain H1 - Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 16:19

Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 16:19
G,day All,
very interesting reading all the opinions. I was there 3 weeks ago, did the big loop around the Alps.Whilst I noticed the dry stags, I did stop and have a close look.The fires have done a lot of the damage, but ,there is also evidence of die back.On the road down to Jindy, on the LHS, that is all die back in the gully.
My farm is at 1570 m AHD on the New England Tableland, ie, above the snow line and in the Alpine zone, the snow gums on my farm went through the die back about 20 years ago.I do not hold much credence in the emotive argument promulgated by those that say the high country graziers managed the landscape, nor do I put much credence in the argument that the local indigenous population doing the same.
In my opinion, what has happened is a combination of factors all coming together at the same time, the most compelling of which is that since the Native Vegetation legislation came into effect, it is unlawful to knock a tree over.Second, with the competition that each individual tree must endure in such circumstances means that the over population of growth, combined with sucker regeneration after the major fires has resulted in the situation we see today.
Just my thinking is all
Iain
AnswerID: 595772

Follow Up By: Ozi M - Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 18:11

Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 18:11
Hi Iain,

Before the new rules did any logging take place to thin out the trees ? This usually results in better management through access roads to put out fires as they effect the livelihood of the workers.

If no logging did you used to "burn off" every few years ?
0
FollowupID: 864492

Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 10:07

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 10:07
Hullo Iain
I think you are right in as much there is rarely one answer, rather a combination of factors.
As a matter of interest, have you read Bill Gammage's book "The Biggest Estate on Earth"?
Cheers
Andrew
0
FollowupID: 864523

Reply By: dad1340 - Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 23:49

Monday, Feb 01, 2016 at 23:49
Interesting comments. A few facts:
* The 'dead' Snowgums do regenerate from their root stock but very slowly. Age dependant.
* The Alpine Ash needs fire to regenerate.
* Long before the "Cattle in the High Country" debate the indigenous tribes used controlled burns to be able to hunt and traverse through the country from about 30,000 years ago. The early explorers wrote about garden like qualities from the High Country to the Murray. In fact there are several famous landscape oil paintings showing these 'Garden' scenes of the short grasses and old age massive trees which looked like the artist made the scene up. They did not.

The cousin in WA was the local Fire Chief in the Margaret River region. He explained the difference between "Hot" and "Cold" fires which is nothing more than a term for the fire temperature.
Lots of undergrowth and other fuel on the forest floor gives the hottest fire and is the most destructive.

Solution:
We need a change in policy that promotes and manages controlled burns in all National and State Parks just like it was done for 30,000 years.

Cheers

dad
Livin' thar dream

Member
My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 595793

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (13)