Re­viv­ing our bush­fire rav­aged for­est ar­eas

Wangaratta Chronicle - - News - Mon, Novem­ber 12, 2007

THE De­part­ment of Sus­tain­abil­ity and En­vi­ron­ment (DSE) and VicForests has made sig­nif­i­cant progress in the re­gen­er­a­tion of for­est ar­eas burnt out last sum­mer dur­ing the Great Di­vide Fires.

Fol­low­ing he­li­copter seed­ing op­er­a­tions in July this year with Alpine Ash, both or­gan­i­sa­tions have, under the Bush­fire Re­cov­ery Pro­gram, em­barked on a plant­ing pro­gram in fire im­pacted ar­eas of the North East that were deemed un­suit­able for aerial sow­ing.

“Un­like many species of eu­ca­lypt, Alpine Ash is eas­ily killed by fire and only re­gen­er­ated by seed fol­low­ing a fire,” said Mans­field DSE sil­vi­cul­ture of­fi­cer, Rod Hawksworth.

“The Alpine Ash seed does not be­gin to form un­til af­ter about 17 years so im­ma­ture stands in fire im­pacted ar­eas are un­able to re­gen­er­ate in the same way as ma­ture stands.

“Typ­i­cally oc­cur­ring be­tween 900 and 1400 me­tres above sea level, on well drained rocky slopes and deep val­leys, plant­ing Alpine Ash was al­ways go­ing to be a chal­lenge.

“It’s steep and rugged coun­try with some very fickle weather,” said Vi­o­let Town plant­ing con­trac­tor Jack Gout­zoulas of So­lar City Greet­ings Pty Ltd.

“Work­ing in moun­tain goat coun­try is tough go­ing, but my crew has met the chal­lenge head on and we’re win­ning.

“To date, over 20,000 Alpine Ash seedlings have been planted in fire im­pacted ar­eas of the Mans­field and Bright dis­tricts.

“With the re­cent rain we’ve had across the North East, we couldn’t have got such a plant­ing op­er­a­tion achieved at a bet­ter time,” Mr Hawksworth said.

Vic­to­ria’s long­est-run­ning fire, the Great Di­vide Fire, burnt 1,116,408 hectares and was con­tained in early Fe­bru­ary this year af­ter 69 days.

KEEP­ING BUSY: Robert Hop­kins is help­ing re-plant the new forests.

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