The operations team at KI Plantation Timbers is assisting our neighbours to remove blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) seedlings, which have been activated by the bushfires of last summer.
“While blue gum, like the koalas that like to feed in them, are a native Australian species, neither is endemic to Kangaroo Island,” Managing Director Keith Lamb said.
“It is unusual to see blue gums setting seed from plantations because the typical harvest age is around 10 years, before the trees are fully mature. The average age of the Kangaroo Island blue gums is about 14 years, well past the usual harvest age, due to the delays in approvals for the Smith Bay seaport.”
In its natural habitat, wildfire provides the perfect conditions for germination of blue gum seedlings. The hotter the fire, the better the conditions for germination. So it’s not surprising the combination of older trees and high intensity wildfires on Kangaroo Island have led to germination of trees in some areas.
“The dispersal of the seed bank is patchy; highly concentrated in some areas and not so much in others.”
“We understand weeds are an emerging problem across the island following the fires and recent rains. Although blue gum is not a declared weed, KIPT staff are assisting with control efforts by removing seedlings on sensitive areas such as neighbours’ properties: fencelines bordering national parks and private landholders with heritage native vegetation.”
KIPT also has provided a letter of support for KI Conservation Landholders Association (of which it is a member) to access federal bushfire recovery funding for weed monitoring and removal. Nature Conservancy of SA and other groups have mobilised volunteers to help monitor and remove weeds, including from fodder which was brought to feed animals after pasture was destroyed in the fires.
Biosecurity SA has convened landholders and others stakeholders to participate in a weeds advisory group as part of a wider biosecurity effort after the fires, and KIPT will be represented on that group.