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Fire takes toll on native trees

Hundreds, if not thousands, of native gum trees have been destroyed or severely damaged in the Wunghnu Complex fire.

February 25, 2014 4:08am

A paddock tree near numurkah burnt in Wunghnu complex fire


Hundreds, if not thousands, of native gum trees have been destroyed or severely damaged in the Wunghnu Complex fire.

Some of those left standing, but smouldering, have been knocked over to reduce the safety risk.

The fire has taken a terrible toll on the majestic paddock trees and roadside gums that dot the plains around Wunghnu, Bunbartha, and Tallygaroopna.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority land and diversity manager Steve Wilson said the trees in the area were mainly red gums and grey box.

‘‘We have noticed in some more isolated paddock trees, debris has built up around the base and has added to the fuel load,’’ Mr Wilson said.

‘‘With red gums and grey box they can have a slight hollow where the fire can get in, and the trunk acts like a chimney.

‘‘In high winds the fire is drawn up through the centre.’’

He said the trees were often a refuge for birds and animals, and roadside trees added to a corridor where the animals moved along.

‘‘A key message from the CMA is to — were possible — leave fallen timber on the ground where it can continue to provide a short-term refuge for some species.’’

Mr Wilson said some trees with burnt foliage might recover in a stage called epicormic growth.

‘‘Although the trunks may look black, the trees may grow foliage along the trunks and branches over the next few months,’’ he said.

‘‘Eventually new branches will form.’’

On issues of tree safety Mr Wilson suggested land holders call the DEPI or CFA.

The CMA sometimes recovers fallen trees to use in re-snagging rivers to improve fish habitat; a process it implemented to re-use trees knocked over for the Nagambie bypass.

If property owners have trees they think may be suitable, they can contact the CMA in Shepparton.

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