GIT Forestry Consulting - Consultoría y Servicios de Ingeniería Agroforestal - www.git-forestry.com - EUCALYPTOLOGICS
We have previously seen images of natural regeneration in E. delegatensis, E. obliqua, E. globulus, E. nitens, E. blakelyi, E. nicholii and E. gunnii in which regrowth was present from lignotuber or axillary buds after the removal af the aerial part of the trees. Today we will see one of the natural equivalents to coppice growth after timber harvest, which is vegetative regeneration after fire.
(Photo courtesy of Phil in Sydney's Blog "Eucalypts In Habitat")
In Eucalyptus forestry plantations overseas those species, provenances and races introduced from areas where evolution favoured vigorous coppicers show a similar behaviour. Even if the aerial part is totally killed, some months later new regrowth shows up in Eucalyptus trees and proves casualty rate is relatively low. Other types of tree covers, especially conifers, are a total loss instead. Intact eucalypt root systems are able to hold denuded soil from the adverse effect of erosion, which in areas of noticeable slope is the major catastrophic risk after a fire.
But managed plantations are normally grown in short rotation cycles and at quite close spacings, so peak seed production is not yet achieved even if reproductive maturity is reached, and tree crowns are small. Only overgrown trees and extramature stands do release seed in sufficient amounts for a noticeable colonisation of bare soils after fires but in most cases where coppice is vigorous enough these are quickly dominated by the fastest growing survivors, able to use available resources more efficiently with their already formed root systems, the same that can offer the only noticeable protection to soil.
Yet another irony, we had a trip from the myth of "Eucalyptus being the trees causing forest fires" to the fact of "Eucalyptus being the trees protecting soil after forest fires".
© 2007 Gustavo Iglesias Trabado. Please contact us if you want to use all or part of this text and photography elsewhere. We like to share, but we do not like rudeness.