Friday, 29 May 2009

Ash to ashes

Tree ferns and mountain ash 
in a cool, temperate rainforest in Victoria
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CSIRO from here


After natural disasters have visited humanity and departed, we are encouraged as normalcy returns and nature returns to its usual state.  Never is this so important as after fire, particularly after the horrific bushfires that struck Victoria on Black Saturday, 7 February.

Therefore it is great news to read this morning of the aerial re-seeding of the Mountain Ash forests.

The Mountain Ash forests are one of Victoria's glories.  The towering source of ships' masts looming over rainforest valleys of tree ferns is magnificent.  The Dandenong Ranges near where I live are populated with such trees, ferns and valleys.  

The Mountain Ash, Eucalyptus regnans, is the world's tallest flowering plant.  Mountain Ash can live for up to 500 years. Other than old age, wildfire is the only other common cause of death in Mountain Ash. Characteristics that cause this tree to be fire sensitive include the long ribbons of hanging bark and the extreme combustibility of the foliage. After a fire, the area will regenerate to Mountain Ash as the burnt ground and direct sunlight serves as an ideal seed bed for seed that falls from the scorched crowns.  Mature trees will leave seeds that regenerate after fire.  Young trees do not leave seed - that is why the aerial re-seeding has to occur.  The forests risk depletion of new growth otherwise.

I look forward to seeing pictures of the green shoots and the young trees that will emerge from the re-seeding and I pray that those who live close to the Mountain Ash forests and have survived the bushfires will find hope in their hearts to enjoy life again.

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