Monthly Archives: January 2016

Planned burning decimates old-growth trees – Strathbogie forest

Report: Tames Rd planned burn – impact assessment (2 MB)

“The results of research into the effects of fire on different types of bushland are an important influence on DELWP’s planned burning program.”This Blue Gum, one of the largest trees measured at 1.7 m dbh, killed & felled by the burn.“DELWP and its partner organisations carry out research to understand the needs of animals in different types of bushland and the effect of fire on animals and their habitat. DELWP uses this information when planning and carrying out a burn.”

DSCF4610“This information, combined with other local knowledge, helps DELWP decide where and when to carry out planned burns, and how to reduce the impact of burns on the bushland.”

_MG_3733“When planning burns to reduce fuel, DELWP aims to copy the natural cycles of fire that suit the plants and animals in a particular area. The burns are not as hot as bushfires, so most native plants are able to tolerate the heat.”

Another giant bites the dust.“Occasionally an unhealthy tree may die after a fire or planned burn. However, a small number of dead trees in a forest is normal and these trees become important habitat for some animals, reptiles and insects.”

OMG! The largest living tree in the survey area (1.9 m dbh), burnt and felled by the burn!

The above quotes are from DELWP’s Planned Burn>Plants and Animals webpage, but oh, how different reality is!

DELWP is an organization of many good people wanting to make a difference, but we fear that the juggernaut of policy & operations  just sweeps everyone along and the details fall through the cracks.

Planned burning (and logging) in the forests of the Strathbogie Ranges is decimating the remnants of what old-growth vegetation has survived 150 years of white-man’s management. If our survey results are anything to go by, the few big, old trees that remain, along with hollow-dependent fauna and forest resilience, are in real danger, thanks to the scale and type of planned burning currently in operation

Late in 2015 members of the SSFG conducted a number of transect surveys to assess the impact of this planned burn on the old-growth trees left in parts of that forest

Report: Tames Rd planned burn – impact assessment (2 MB)

As a result of our surveys, the Strathbogie Suatainable Forests Group has concluded:

1. DELWP needs to acknowledge that the Tames Rd planned burn has had disastrous environmental consequences for the forest.
2. Adopting current planned burn practice for the other scheduled burns in the Strathbogies is totally unacceptable.
3. The planned burning schedule for the Strathbogie forest needs a major, evidence-based, re-think and an unequivocal backing away from the 6700 ha target as set out in the current FOP.
4. In the absence of DELWP agreeing to the above points, we are calling for a complete moratorium on planned burning in the Strathbogies (LMZ and BMZ), pending a VEAC investigation into the management and values of this important natural asset.


For more background, previous posts on this topic include:

One-third of Strathbogie forest to be burnt in 2016-18

Planned burning – an ecological disaster?

Tames Rd planned burn – survey 2





Mt Strathbogie walk – Feb 21, 2016

Mt Strathbogie walk Feb 2016

Tames Rd planned burn – survey 2

Survey group checking locations and calibrating instruments at the start of a transect survey.

Survey group checking location and calibrating instruments at the start of a transect survey.

The results of our initial survey, last November, of DELWP’s Tames Rd planned-burn were alarming! So much so that we decided to survey a different part of the planned-burn in order to increase the area surveyed, the number of trees measured and improve the robustness of the survey overall. Two additional 50 m-wide transects (total 1000 m long) were surveyed on Dec. 6th last year, bearing west off Dry Creek Rd; Transects 3 and 4 on the map below.

Annotated map of DELWP's assessment of the impact of the planned-burn on the forest.

Annotated map of DELWP’s assessment of the impact of the planned-burn on the forest. Click to enlarge.

As in the previous survey, all trees greater than or equal to 70 cm dbh were measured (to the nearest centimeter) and their condition recorded according to these four categories:

  1. Burnt, or not burnt by the planned-burn. This category included all trees that showed signs of being burnt by the planned-burn. If any part of a tree was at all visibly burnt by the burn is was categorized as ‘burnt’.
  2. Living, or dead at time of burn. It was important to determine the impact of the planned-burn on forest stags (dead, standing trees), so all dead trees (standing and fallen) were inspected to determine whether they were dead or alive before the burn and whether the burn felled them, or whether they had fallen before the burn. Where doubt arose, burnt, fallen trees were excluded from the survey.
  3. Killed, or not killed by burn. If a tree showed signs of life (green leaves) it was regarded as ‘living’, even if it’s health appeared compromised by being fire affected.
  4. Standing after the burn, or felled by the burn. This was applied to both trees and stags

These categories allowed us to assess the impact of the planned-burn on both living trees and stags (standing, dead trees) in the forest and across two size classes – 70-99.9 cm dbh and >100 cm dbh. This time around we measured 151 trees and stags (compared to 122 in Transects 3 & 4).

Although DELWP’s ‘post burnt extent and severity map’ suggested our transects would be in largely burnt forest, both transects passed through large areas of unburnt forest. Nonetheless, the picture was much the same as in the previous survey – many of the biggest and oldest trees had been destroyed by the fire. Click on an image below to view the slide show. Continue reading