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.
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:
- 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’.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
How anyone could think that this planned burn was a success (regardless of the arguments about fire risk) is incomprehensible. The perimeter of parts of the burn area are near several houses, but most of the burn is remote and just starting to recover from some serious logging several decades ago. In the face of observations like these, DELWP Regional Staff insist that this was a ‘successful’ burn. If so, I’d hate to see a burn gone wrong.
The next step is to analyse the data collected on these transect surveys, in order to tell an accurate story of the impact of this burn on the forest. Stay tuned.