How are forests managed?
Australian forests have been managed by humans for tens of thousands of years. Australian Aboriginals established one of the longest surviving traditions of forest management in the world. Our modern forest ecosystems have been heavily influenced by Aboriginal forest management practices. These practices included the specific harvesting and management of plants and animals for food and textiles. Aboriginals also used fire to influence the structure of forests, encouraging the growth of plants that attracted specific animals.
In this way, Australian forests have adapted to fire and require specific burning regimes in order to regenerate and maintain their traditional forest structure. Many Australian plant species require fire or smoke to germinate.
Did you know that eucalypts are shade intolerant? This means that they will not grow and develop properly underneath a forest canopy. Eucalypts require large gaps in the forest canopy to provide enough sunlight to grow straight and tall. Without large gaps in the canopy a eucalypt forest can become dominated by a single age class of trees. Regular disturbance in the forest canopy ensures that young, healthy eucalypt trees can grow up to eventually replace the old and dying trees.
In Queensland, native forests are harvested selectivley (selective harvest). By removing individual trees that have reached their maximum potential, gaps are created, providing sunlight and nutrients for young, healthy trees. This system creates a healthy forest structure; ensuring a good range of age classes and enough space for young trees to develop. Suitable habitat trees are left in the forest to provide hollows for native wildlife. Any obvious ‘feed’ trees are also maintained. In this way, the native forest is able to provide timber and ecosystem services at the same time.
Go to pfsq.net.au for a wealth of information on Native Forests, Management, Farm Forestry, Plantation design and many other interesting articles.