Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The tallest tree

In 2015, Brett Mifsud received some curious information from a contact at VicForests: a map of a heavily forested area 80 kilometres east of Melbourne that showed some unexpected altitude readings. 
Mifsud knew this region well – any spare moment he would head there in his late-model Subaru, which was scattered with GPS devices, rangefinders, tape measures and a dog-eared spiral-bound notebook thick with scribbles. 
His main aim on such excursions was to find, and register, large specimens of Eucalyptus regnans. These trees, more commonly known as mountain ash, are impressive when they reach typical heights, but when they grow even taller they can evoke the kind of gasp usually saved for Gothic cathedrals. 

Over the years Mifsud had found numerous massive mountain ash trees, and by registering their presence with VicForests he affected what loggers could and could not touch in the vicinity. His research contributed to VicForests’ development of a protection plan, which excludes core areas of large trees from harvest and regeneration burns. 

But, “if anything,” Mifsud says, “letting people know about these trees is like saying, ‘Stop. Look! If these trees exist, then so does a rich ecosystem down to the micro level.’” trees, and by registering their presence with VicForests he affected what loggers could and could not touch in the vicinity. His research contributed to VicForests’ development of a protection plan, which excludes core areas of large trees from harvest and regeneration burns. But, “if anything,” Mifsud says, “letting people know about these trees is like saying, ‘Stop. Look! If these trees exist, then so does a rich ecosystem down to the micro level.’”


Read Patrick Witton’s story on The Monthly -  “The tallest tree

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