DEATH OF A HABITAT

Eucalyptus trees are now growing in many countries, and their amazing ability to adapt to a vast range of environmental conditions make them ideal for renewable energy forestry projects. Generally speaking they are planted as a mono species, but in Australia - their country of origin, they belong to a huge community of trees that make up the scleraphyll forests of this
vast country.

Depending on the soil fertility, the predominance of one species or another can be seen quite distinctly and healthy specimens have an extraordinary beauty.

In the area of central Queensland where I lived as a teenager (1950's) I helped cut down the giant bluegums, quite widely distributed through the forest, and we were followed by the railway sleeper cutters who took out all the big Ironbarks. The remaining big eucalyptus not having any millable value were later ringbarked to clear the area for grazing.

Revisiting this area 46 years later, the damage to this fragile environment is all too clear to see, but it's too late to restore this environment to the habitat it once formed.

The following photographs will give you some idea of how easy it is to destroy something that has protected the land for thousands of years.

August 2002

gum1.jpg

1. Cleared of all large trees, there remains only the bleached skeletons of their existence. The smaller trees are mainly acacias and banksias

gum2.jpg

2. All the large trees on the right and in the distance grow along the creek bank where the golden sand is now filled with silt washed from the surrounding paddocks

gum3.jpg

3. All trees not considered as useful are ringbarked and left to die. The cuts of the axe are clear to see.

gum4.jpg

4. Like accusing fingers pointing to nowhere, this is the cost to put meat in your hamburger.

gum5.jpg

5. The final indignity to a once healthy environment as the trees still hang on to the soil they evolved to protect.

gum6.jpg

6. Happy grazing country enjoy the view as the next stage will be to open cut mine the almost continuous coal deposits of central Queensland.