THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY MEDIA RELEASE
5 MAY 2003
CALL FOR WATCHDOG TO PROBE BURNING
OF "EL GRANDE"
(Forest Practices Board's response will be a test of Tasmania's heavily-criticised forest-practices
The Wilderness Society has called for an investigation by the state's forest-practices watchdog into the torching
of Australia's most massive tree, El Grande.
"The burning of the largest flowering plant on Earth is a
indictment of Tasmania's forest practices and should be investigated," said Geoff Law, Campaign Coordinator for the Wilderness
"How can Forestry Tasmania be entrusted with many of the state's most valuable assets if they can't even
look after one tree?" The Society has written to the Forest Practices Board requesting an investigation that addresses several
"We have asked the Board to see whether Forestry Tasmania breached the Giant Trees Policy, and
whether they also breached the Forest Practices Code in this area."
"This will be an important test for the state's
forest-practices system, which has been under intense scrutiny recently."
The forest-practices system has been heavily
criticised on the channel Nine's Sunday program, in local media, and in last Wednesday's The Australian.
Geoff Law (03) 6224 1550, 0409 944891.
THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY MEDIA RELEASE
2 MAY 2003
EXPERT SAYS "EL GRANDE" HAS BEEN KILLED
(Australia's largest tree cooked
from the inside, says botanist)
El Grande, Australia's most massive tree, has been killed by Forestry Tasmania s regeneration burn, according
to botanical consultant Alan Gray, who has 45 years experience in the botany of eucalypts and acacias, has inspected the tree
twice this week.
He has noted massive damage to the tree, including damage to its root system from machinery clearing
a path around the tree; intense burning inside the hollow tree; and the loss of huge branches from the canopy as a result
of flames emerging from hollows up to 65 metres high.
Mr Gray has the following expertise in the botany and health
- He was a consultant for the Regional Forest Agreement in carrying out surveys of the forests in north-east
- He has worked as a botanical consultant on the management
of trees for the Glenorchy and Kingborough
- He has worked as an information and education officer at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens;
- He has worked as a vegetation consultant for Landscape
Planners, Greening Australia, mining companies,and
- He has been a tutor and lecturer on botany;
- He is an honorary botanist at the Tasmanian Herbarium.
His report is attached below.
Wilderness Society Campaign Coordinator, Geoff Law, said that the revelations about
El Grande, which have been aired nationally, show the futility of the recently released arrangements being negotiated between
the logging and tourism industries.
If Forestry Tasmania cant look after one tree, how can they be trusted to care
for the states magnificent forests?
El Grande is listed on Forestry Tasmania‚s website as Tasmanias most massive tree.
This makes it the most massive tree in Australia ‚ at 79 metres tall, 20 metres in girth and a volume of 439 cubic metres.
Further information: Geoff Law 0409 944891.
CONCLUSIONS ON EL GRANDE (EUCALYPTUS REGNANS) ALAN GRAY, CONSULTANT
An on-site inspection of this large tree was made on 27 April 2003.
to Forestry Tasmania, the tree had been protected from a regeneration burn in a nearby logging coupe and had been spared.
The examination of the tree revealed that it was clearly dead, from the roots to the crown.
observations are relevant:
- The leaves of the crown are still present but quite brown, brittle and dead, but NOT burnt or singed.
- The lower butt of the tree had been exposed for approximately 1/2 - 1 metre by a bulldozer or a similar machine. Some
roots had been exposed and damaged.
- The regeneration burn had burnt up to the tree and had charred the buttress bark, particularly on the southern side.
- The fire appears to have been particularly intense in the vicinity of the tree; humus and other organic litter having
been burnt to mineral earth.
- Tree ferns and smaller shrubs and trees as well as fallen timber were severely charred or completely destroyed.
- The removal of 'soil' from around the tree had exposed a number of openings between the buttresses.
- The openings were continuous with the hollow (piped) centre of the tree which contained dry rot material and dry dead
- The dead and hollow centre of the tree extended up to at least 60 (65?) metres from ground level.
- Further openings in the trunk were evident at approximately 20 metres.
* The fire had burnt to the tree and then had
been drawing into the ground-level openings.
- The dry rot and wood inside the trunk had ignited and the
configuration of draught holes at the base with outlet
further up had acted like a furnace and chimney.
- The temperatures generated within the tree core mush have been extremely high, virtually cooking the tree from the inside-out!
- The external furnacing had extended to 60-65 metres where the flames appear to have exited from some hollow branches of
N.B. The charring is visible!
- Some of these large branches were thus weakened and have fallen, bringing down other branches is the process.
- Numerous small sections of bark were cut away to the cambium layer at many sites on exposed root buttresses, burls, trunk,
and fallen branches. All revealed dead or near dead tissue of different colour and texture to normal living tissue.
- There is no moisture movement apparent and with the crown
of leaves dead (thus no negative pressure to draw sap) the
transport systems of this tree must be regarded as defunct.