Veteran Trees

Do you know that it takes between 150 and 200 years before a tree is old enough to create suitable hollows for galahs and rosellas?

A couple of weeks ago, Rikki and I had the opportunity to attend the Veteran and Scar Trees workshop organised by the Wildlife Conservation Partnership Program (WCPP). Under the WCPP,  private landholders can enter into an agreement with Brisbane City Council to restore and maintain their property for nature conservation purposes and in return receive help and advice on revegetation, local flora and fauna species and how to conserve and restore wildlife habitat on their land. If you have seen signs on gates or fences saying ‘Land for Wildlife’, then that property is in the WCPP.

Jan Allen, arborist and horticulturist, founder of Veteran Tree Group Australia, provided an explanation of what ‘veteran’ means, showed some amazing photos of very old trees (some over 1000 years old!) and described the many varied services that these trees provide (e.g. habitat for birds, reptiles, insects, fungi, etc.; connection to past events and history; cultural connection for ceremonies; and more).

Michael Ngugi, Principal Conservation Officer at the Queensland Herbarium introduced us to the Ecosystems Dynamics Simulator, a tool which he developed to estimate the age of trees. At the core of the tool is the result of seven decades of monitoring the growth of native trees to determine their growth rate and the factors that impact on that rate. With the tool, it is now possible to enter a tree’s species, diameter and location to get an estimate of its age. One worked example showed that a Eucalyptus pilularis (Blackbutt) on the Sunshine Coast, with a diameter of 201cm, was more than 1050 years old!

Greg Siepen, former UQ Gatton lecturer, presented on Scar Trees. Whilst most people are familiar with lightning scars, trees also suffer scarring from insects, bark damage from larger animals such as deers, not to mention man-made ones whether for cultural or non-cultural reasons.

The workshop concluded with a visit to a local Veteran Tree which was estimated to be around 400 years old. What would that tree have seen in that time?


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