"Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

Discussion in 'The big picture' started by Antonino Giglio, Jun 29, 2009.

  1. Antonino Giglio

    Antonino Giglio Junior Member

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    I've just read an article in the winter edition of The Digger's Club, signed Clive Blazey, at page 2.

    As someone read it?
    I actually find it very interesting and challenging and, on my opinion, it is a mind opener.

    I was particolarly stunned to read about the agressivness and fierce competitive nature of eucapyptus "...but once the eucalyptus becomes the dominant sepecies and replaces the rain forest it completely alters the ecology to create conditions in which it trives. The leaves of eucalyptus hang vertically to reduce evaporation and letting through light that rises soil temperatures and reduces soil moisture wich destroys shade loving ferns and mosses The eucalypt also produces chemicals to prevent plan competition whcih assists it to become the dominant species. Its leaves are inflammable so its litter of leaves will ignite destroying all living things - soil carbon, soil biota, animals, plants and, of course, us..."

    Has anyone read it? What do you guys think about this "hot" topic?
     
  2. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    simply put for me it means, any plant that is planted outside its indemic region has the potential to become a weed, now the way i see it the uec's in question are probably no more aggressive as weed status where they are exotics than what lantana and slash and radiata pines are over here. in california in particular and madagascar also they are taking over their habitats, that is mainly due to better growing conditions and that they have no natural balancer, so they thrive.

    len
     
  3. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    I reckon it means Eucalyptus have evolved to be a dominant species.

    However i also reckon the Human species has evolved to become the dominant destroyer of Eucalyptus.
     
  4. geoff

    geoff Junior Member

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    Antonino, I haven't read the article but I agree with the idea. Not sure if it's mentioned in there, but eucalypts also have waxy leaves, so their litter is waxy and water repellent, and so are the soils beneath them. Essentially they are creating a situation that reinforces the dry nature of our country. They don't produce deep layers of humus in the same way that non-eucalypts will, so they are not creating deep moist soils that hold water and increase growth of other plants. It's a bit like the chicken and the egg, which came first, the environment or the climate? I think that eucalypt forest is creating the dry climate, just as much as the dry climate has favoured the eucalypt forest. It's a self-reinforcing feedback.

    If we want to live well here we should be planting deciduous trees, which shade the soil, produce humus and deeper soils, and transpire more water therefore creating more rain. A house surrounded by eucalypts et al is going to be hot in summer, one surrounded by deciduous broadleaf trees is going to be cooler and moister, therefore more pleasant, so there are direct advantages in terms of reducing energy use required to maintain comfort levels. I imagine this would translate to other areas of our immediate environment. If the whole productive area of a household is surrounded by cool, moist forest it's going to be much more productive than one surrounded by hot, dry land.
     
  5. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    Is there evidence that gums will replace rain forest without human intervention? There are natives in NZ that will take over and area and become the dominant, only, species for several hundred years at a time eg manuka and kanuka. But they don't do that to existing bush, they do it on land that has been cleared (by humans or fire).

    I'd want to know if gum forests last forever. Do they always outcompete other plants after a fire? Under what conditions do other plants succeed?

    I can think of small stands of gums in NZ that are a hundred years old and they haven't taken over. Hardly aggressive especially when you compare them to pines.
     
  6. Burra Maluca

    Burra Maluca Junior Member

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    I'm in Portugal, not Australia, but we have huge areas of land planted up with non-native eucalyptus here, mainly for paper production. My experience (mostly just walking through the forests and observing) is that they produce a total monoculture, virtually nothing else will grow near them, the soil is even worse than normal beneath them and they are an extreme fire risk. But they don't seem to spread - they stay where they are planted, so no I don't believe they are aggressive invaders, at least, not the type they grow here.

    By the way, does anyone here know if it's possible to compost eucalypt leaves? And how long it takes after cutting one down until you can grow anything else in the area? Or even, what else *can* you grow - I know acacia will, and 'snotberries', but is there anything else I could try?
     
  7. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    Yes, Eucalypt leaves can be composted. It can take a while for the oils to leach out though. I occassionally get a load of shreeded eucalypt from the tree loppers clearing around power lines. Its a coarse mulch so i like to put it through the flails on my own shredder after a month or so aging.

    LOTS of moisture is good.
     
  8. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    G'day All

    The Blazey 'article' can be viewed here:

    https://www.diggers.com.au/articleEucalyptus.shtml

    Not quite sure what Clive is 'digging' at with regards to the above, but lumping all spp. of Eucalypt into one of two categories, either 'friend or foe', is really not helping to further the debate re: to burn or not to burn. The genus Eucalyptus, of which there are more than a thousand species/sub-species, have evolved over millenia to deal in there own unique way (and often within their own unique ecological niche) with fire.

    Last week I spent 3-days in Kakudu, and during my time there studied much of the Eucalypt escarpment country. No evidence of rogue Eucalypts trying to storm the wetter environments at the base of the escarpments propper. Indeed, most of my life has been spent living in or near a Eucalypt forest of one description or another, and likewise I have never seen a Eucalypt forest self-regenerating in any way other than nature intended. The only time Eucalypts pose a threat to other non-Eucalypt ecologies is when those same ecologies have been bulldozed and replanted with Eucalypt mono-cultures, also known as plantations (and never as an ecologically-diverse forest). In this point, I agree with Clive.

    Eucalypts do not kill people; people kill people. We have irrovociably-altered our forest ecologies, and now we have to learn to live with the outcomes. We reap what we sow.

    For those who are interested in the vast field of science known as 'fire ecology', particularly as it pertains to maybe 60,000-plus years of human-induced/influenced change in an Australian context, you could do a lot worse than read the following:

    https://www.publish.csiro.au/samples/Aus ... Sample.pdf

    For expert information/advice concerning the beautiful genus Eucalyptus, check out one of the world's brightest stars in the field of Eucalypt ecology, Dean Nicolle:

    https://www.dn.com.au/index.html

    Cheerio, Mark.
     
  9. Antonino Giglio

    Antonino Giglio Junior Member

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    Thanks Geoff! Great imput, very balanced and true... :)
     
  10. duanejen

    duanejen Junior Member

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    The Weeds of National Significance Act is about to be lobbied to put the whole Genus Eucalyptus on the WONS list.

    It is the greatest environmental weed this country has!!!

    WHY should it be declared??

    It is invasive.
    It burns.
    Its alleolopathic
    It's residue fails to break down.
    Its a monoculture.
    It's poisoning and killing ALL of our catchments.
    It prevents biodiversity from growing beneath it.


    It ticks ALL the boxes as the reasons for putting it on the WONS list.

    Anyone wanting to join the debate can contact the Bureau of Rural Sciences at DAFF (Dept of Ag, Forestry and Fisheries) and participate in their survey.
     
  11. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    What's the Weeds of National Significance list? I take it it's not like the significant trees registers we have in NZ that protect trees?
     
  12. duanejen

    duanejen Junior Member

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    WONS Act...is an acronym, legislated by the Australian Government Act and stands for "Weeds of National Significance"

    See the myopic view of the AG bureaucracy view at https://www.weeds.gov.au/weeds/lists/wons.html which discriminates about biologic and systems function of plants in total contradiction to Nature.
     
  13. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    So it's a list of plants that are considered really bad? And it includes natives?


    We have a noxious weeds list, but it is what it sounds like. WONS is a really weird acronym and title to use for a list of plants you don't want.
     
  14. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    mostly in comment to what geoff, duanejen, have posted.

    we find from experience living on rural property that the habitat under the gum tree grasses(now we are talking the forest type tree), the best grasses we had growing were under and within the drip line of those large euc' trees, and other smaller shrubs trees would readily grow outside that drip line, the land we had had an average of high 600mm to 800mm yearly rainfall. there was no build up of gum leaves down in amongs all the litter that collected in those grasses some antive and some exotic (that's just how it is with grasses).

    that debate thing looks to me like it will do what normally happens bring on a knee jerk reaction. the issue with gum trees and fires is that people seem inane enough to realy believe "you can live among the gum tree's", simple equation is you can't live, without a substantial safety margin which for me is at least 100 meters from those trees, not only in fires are they bad news but also in storm or strong wind and for no reason at all they can drop a major bough on your head, even here in suburbia where the big gum grow we see dropped branches regular. one tree very near a junior football club hopefully one day when it happens no kid is damaged, well nobody for that matter.

    and in suburbia as street trees and in backyards there is no place for them, there are some euc's that are garden friendly they are the smaller shrubby tree types, so need to be careful the net isn't cast too wide.

    when you look at some lanscapes in california well all over the usa you need to look twice to be sure you aren't looking at an aussie scene. so buy all means keep those trees in the forest/bush where they belong and in their indemic range, and maybe stop pushing them down in the unbridaled quest to build little boxes.

    len
     
  15. Jana

    Jana Junior Member

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    There needs to be a study of the effect of the massive quantities of volitile particulates in the upper atmosphere over Australia...their effect on rain condensation, cloud charge, wind patterns and even on the effect on the soil and microbial life as they fall with the rain.

    In saving Australia from permanent drought we are talking an extended turn around period. You cannot work on the desert itself, you have to focus on reforesting all the rivers from the ocean to the tributaries in non eucalypt species...this will stop the encroachment of the desert and send it back. Then ocean air will be "attracted" up into reforested river systems such that the entire continent can be reforested. But if we lose the river systems before we do this, we will not be able to reforest the continents and modify climate. This is a way that nature herself uses to turn the tide of rainfall inland keeping continents forested.

    I am not advocating eradication of the eucalyptus genus, but to ensure that future plantations be of rain attracting/generating species, and that river systems be regenerated in rainforest trees and broad canopy soil-fertility enhancing trees like acacia, moringa and neem. Re-establishment of the river-forest systems is essential to terra-forming the Australian continent, holding the soil on the land and creating a more balanced, life-enhancing climate with less extremes so the desertification can be halted and returned to savanna.

    Here is an NCAR scientist responding to my eucalyptus emissions desertification theory:
    ‘It is an interesting idea. Eucalypts have one of the highest volatile organic compound (VOC) emission rates of any plant species. Trees can control clouds/rain through these VOC because they form cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) that provide a starting point for all cloud droplets (i.e. a surface for water to condense on). We typically think of forests increasing CCN and thus more clouds/rain. But at some point a large number of CCN will actually decrease rain because you have many surfaces and not enough water- so the result is many small droplets that are too small to fall to the surface.”
    Alex Guenther

    Alex Guenther along with Thomas Karl are working on the alarm chemical emissions:
    www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080918170819.htm —Aspirin-like chemical given off by stressed trees. Plant to plant communication occurs on the ecosystem level through emissions of volatile organic substances like methyl salicylates which act like immune system communication to prepare the plants for the stress of drought, fluctuations in temperature, insect attack or disease. A stressed plant gives off these threat chemicals and consequently warn others of the danger, thereby helping them resist and recover. Alex Guenther, NCAR Scientist 303-497-1447 [email protected]

    THE PERMIAN ASTEROID
    There needs to be a review of the tree spectrum in Australia (then part of Pangea) prior to the big asteroid hit 250 million years ago. That asteroid hit provided the impetus for the breakup of pangea by the way. Chances are that if that asteroid hadn’t have sterilized the Australian landmass then the present flora would be far more diverse and more like that of South America. That hit and the ongoing desertification of Oz has left the Eucalyptus as the dominant survivor species. And I suspect that the volatility of the aromatic emissions of the Eucalyptus coupled with the pressurized thermal movement of the upper atmosphere caused by the dry heated desert actually causes air currents to push moisture filled ocean air away from the sunbaked land. The electric charge of the emissions of volatile organic substances may indeed “break up” the formation and condensation of raindrop particles in the upper atmosphere preventing rain clouds from forming. Leading to permanent desertification, which will only serve the hardy Eucalyptus itself and other species as resistant to drought as they. This Survivor Plant Spectrum lead to ongoing desertification and failed to build up the humus or provide the cloud seeding and rain attraction necessary to keep Australia in lush tropical rainforest. Yellow Box trees (Eucalyptus mellidora) is indigenous to the extensive slopes of the Murray Darling Basin from western Victoria to southern Queensland.

    Apart from rainforests, forests are dominated by the hardwood genus Eucalyptus of which there are more than 600 varieties. The expansion of a large number of varieties of Eucalypt probably occurred in the open ecosystem space opened up by the Permian asteroid hit. Originally, 14% of the vast desert continent of Australia was forested, now only 7% is. With the preferential wood desired by humans, I would assume that we cut down mostly trees other than eucalypt, which would increase the % of rain dispersing trees compared to rain attracting trees. Trees were felled and land cleared for agriculture, but over the last 20 years government has encouraged deforestation by Japanese firms for paper. Although the major impact of deforestation on precipitation is found in and near the deforested regions, it also has a strong influence on rainfall in the mid and even high latitudes.

    The "great dying" of the Permian mass extinction 250 million years ago is attributed to a massive asteroid bigger than Mount Everest that slammed into the earth 250 million years ago causing the greatest mass extinction on record, killing about 90% of all life. Geologists located the huge undersea 125-mile wide crater off the north-west coast of Australia where they think the asteroid hit with the force of 1 million nuclear bombs, an impact that almost snuffed out life on earth. About 90 per cent of marine organisms and 80 per cent of land animals and plants died out at the end of the Permian and the beginning of the Triassic periods. The absence of iridium suggesting this earlier space rock had a different composition than the dinosaur-killer rock. The most dominant plant, which is found commonly in fossil beds from the Permian-Triassic, was a giant fern called glossopteris. In the geological layers following the impact, that fern is absent from the fossil record. This also might explain the absence of horsetail in Australasia. Or rather the absence of horsetail could be explained by the fact that Australasia was down at the south pole during the carboniferous period in which horsetail was a dominant species. The polar ice cap of the Carboniferous Period covered the southern end of Pangaea. Glacial deposits, specifically till, of the same age and structure are found on many separate continents which would have been together in the continent of Pangaea.
    https://content.answers.com/main/content ... pangae.jpg

    The Permian Asteroid hit is the single most formative force in the history of the Australian continent, essentially making it what it is today. The extinction of most life on that landmass allowed a vacuum in which the Eucalypt as a hardy survival species was able to flourish...consequently it is the Eucalypt that has become the principle species to define the nature of the Australian biosphere. In theory....thus we have the Eucalyptus as a giant expectorant, decongestant pushing ocean air off the landmass in the south and forcing the monsoon to drop its wad too soon in the north. If Australia still had a land bridge to either South America or Indonesia then the reseeding after the 250 million year sterilization would have produced a more diverse forest with "kinder" climate-making and land-fertility effects.

    The asteroid hit provided the niche for 600 types of eucalypt to emerge, but in the last 200 years it is humans who have selectively deforested non-eucalypt species, thus altering the balance between rain-making species and rain-dispersing species. Take a look at soil-salination and water-table statistics covering the last 200 years to glean the consequences of white human degradation of the Australian continent.

    Mass extinction, Asteriods, Volcanic Traps and why there is no Horsetail in Australasia
    www.nealadams.com/nmu.html —Expanded Earth Theory Animation
    Even as far back as 2000 years ago man knew that the forests had to be preserved because they attract the rain and the rain feeds the rivers and the rivers feed the irrigation systems. Thus vast tracts of forest were absolutely protected from felling.
    https://books.google.com/books?id=pYPq-u ... #PPA443,M1
    Universalising International Law (Developments in International Law, V. 48)
    by C. G. Weeramantry

    https://www.bom.gov.au/weather/national/ ... ptic.shtml Oz wind chart
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008 ... 165601.htm ocean warming as winds lowering

    My father said the monsoon belt moves up and down in latitude throughout the 11 year solar cycle. This should be easy to map by following monsoon stats with solar cycle stats. First intuition would be the band of rain descends further down from the equator during solar max and retreats in solar min...but not sure yet. But I am talking mostly of drawing ocean rain into the southern Australian river systems as a year round phenomena. Monsoons are the result of still bodies of ocean water without cooling currents...causing massive water vapor to collect in the air. They are drawn south onto Australia by hot air rising off the central desert which causes a low pressure, pulling the most air in.
    https://www.abc.net.au/storm/monsoon/what.htm

    https://www.bom.gov.au/watl/about-weathe ... l#page-top
    On the google satellite it looks like the northern territory woodlands are mostly eucalypt...we need to consider what the eucalypt emissions and land heat rising does to the monsoons...I would assume that this would add fuel to the fire and force the monsoon belt to drop its energy/rain earlier. If there were more rain pulling trees in the Northern Territories this would both make the monsoons moderately more gentle and the moisture would be drawn down deeper into the continent.

    Granted the climate change effects wouldn't happen until the system was mature and wide spread, but the human econeering would mostly include regenerating the river systems in Southern Australia...this would bring some extra rain in which would contribute to natural reforesting...which could be enhanced by placing seed-oasis plantations across the south which will self seed as the rain increases. Keeping in mind that it is non-eucalypt trees that need to be encouraged. Ultimately this should help to reduce the blocking highs.
     
  16. duanejen

    duanejen Junior Member

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    Jana

    Agree with you on the desertifying gums, they should be declared WONS.....because although there are 600 odd species/varieties of Eucalypts they are a monoculture, of gum trees. (We speak of over 300 varities of wheat, as wheat being a monoculture).

    And monocultures are doomed to certain failure of ecological systems.
     
  17. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    Re: "Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe?"

    g'day jana,

    like what you say but why leave euc's out of a bio diversity that they belong in, this reaforestation of bio-diversty needs the indemic plants from that region growing in it and that would include euc's. euc's indemic to an area are here to stay for me, all mon-culture should be stopped.

    all come under the laws of "common sense".

    len
     
  18. Free Trees

    Free Trees New Member

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    Eucalyptus: Friend or Foe


    Hi Len, Jana and all,

    Jana; I really found your commentary on the Permian Asteroid interesting asit ties in nicely with an area of my interests. As someone who advocates equilibrium;no tree in a fossil fuel economy is Foe.

    I agree Australia lost out in its desertification but a simple look at thenatural bushland systems suggests limiting Aboriginal burning and plantingAcacia, followed by Eucalyptus and then rainforest canopy species is our bestdefence in a changing climate.

    Len you mentioned falling Euc. branches and I agree here too. Red River gumsalmost always drop branches as their mass contracts when there is rapid temperaturechange. Some of those branches can contain upward of three tone of atmosphericcarbon. 3 tone that the root ball will need to again source from the atmosphereto repair its food source.

    Most councils these days will know for every branch dropper there is abranch clinger and a good council with good botanists will have 0 branches fallfrom trees they have strategically planted (Remnants are different).

    I believe it is irresponsible for us to accept the benefit of burning fossilfuels and expect our ailing ecosystems to carry the effects of such practices.In a dry Climate Eucs are the big guns.

    I have noticed an increase in rainfall and a decrease in temp when the lakeEyre Basin in Australia is full. I'm of the firm belief that close to the nextincrease of 4 degrees we really should be flooding this basin with sea water,causing localised evaporation and planting Acacia, then Eucs and then lettingthe planet develop coping mechanisms with our way of life.

    Friend or Foe? Unfortunately that argument died a couple or degrees ago (norhyme intended).

    Jana I wonder if you could email me more info on VOC and its cloud seedingabilities? I am researching a business and would like to quote some of thisinformation on my website.

    Cheers

    Marcus :nod:
     

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