Blue Gum Woodland

Ecosystem Description

Eucalyptus tereticornis (forest red gum / blue gum) open forest to woodland. Uplands on well-drained alluvium.

Regional Ecosystem

7.3.43

Biodiversity status

Endangered

Estimated regional extent

More than 30% of the pre-clearing area remaining

Sheoak Ridge

Estimated 2% cover of property.

Location

Edge of Norther Rainforest section.

The most noticeable feature of the blue gum woodland is the impressive size of the mature Eucalyptus tereticornis. It is likely that individuals of this species represent the tallest trees on the reserve. Their tendency to form good large hollows makes then an important habitat for birds and possums.  Predatory birds can often be seen perching at the top of tall blue gums.

Eucalyptus tereticornis
Eucalyptus tereticornis

Soils in this ecosystem appear to facilitate more rapid plant growth than other areas. Drainage is good to reasonable and the soil remains friable during the wet season.  Subsequently rainforest species frequently grow amongst the blue gums and the species composition changes very rapidly. The exotic weed Lantana, is very quick to colonize blue gum woodland on the reserve and can form dense thickets if not controlled.

Management

The future of the blue gum woodlands presents a bit of a dilemma. On one hand it is important to maintain as high a ecological diversity on the reserve as possible. However, on the other hand, The blue gum woodland is rapidly transitioning into a Rainforest ecosystem that is much more species rich.

As the blue gum woodland is still present in the region at more than 30% of its original cover, while the rainforest is estimated to be less than 10% to 30% of its original cover, a degree of preference has been given to rainforest expansion.  However where mature Eucalyptus tereticornis still dominate, efforts are now being made to protect them from the encroaching rainforest vegetation.  This is done by manually removing rainforest pioneer species and minor controlled burning.

Fire:

Source: Queensland Government, DEHP, Fire Management Guidelines, Feb 2013

SEASON: Cool, dry season (June-Sep).

INTENSITY: Low to moderate.

INTERVAL: 2-5 years.

STRATEGY: Mosaic burn < 30%. Begin burning early in the fire season, with progressive patch fires burnt through the year. Stop burning when the network of fires and other breaks is sufficient to impede fire spread later in the year. Storm-burning may be used to add further diversity to the fire mosaic.

ISSUES: Ignition is most likely during hot, dry season (Oct – Jan). These fires are typically high intensity fires that can be difficult to control. Maintaining a fire mosaic will ensure protection of animal habitats and mitigate against wildfires. Fire management approach may be different south of Ingham and similar to areas west of Kuranda to Mt Molloy.

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A private nature reserve in North Queensland

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