Annette Dean - Project Manager
Annette has worked in project management and natural area management roles for over 25 years. Her experience in natural area management also includes working as CEO for the Kokoda Track Authority and as ranger in charge of national parks in NSW and Tasmania. Her previous projects in natural area restoration include rehabilitation of abandoned airstrips in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, restoration of river red gum forests and wetlands in new national parks in NSW, and regional weed management planning roles.
This project is an exciting opportunity to restore logged areas in our World Heritage Area.
These ecological trials will help us work out the best way to restore the forests, to reduce the risk of wildfire or arson, to control pests and weeds, and to control and mitigate erosion. At the end of the day we want to see the logged-over coupes restored to tall-eucalypt forest with maximum species diversity.
Christine Corbett - Project Planning Officer
Christine has spent 20 years working as an ecologist, environmental scientist and project manager. She has worked with State Government, ENGOs and consulting firms. She has worked across Tasmania and interstate, undertaking environmental impact assessments and working with landholders to improve natural resource management.
The WHA coupe restoration project is vital to fill the gaps between past and future land management, to restore the tall forest values, hastening the return of their World Heritage values.
Todd Dudley - Technical Advisor
As the Co-ordinator of the North East Bioregional Network and Site Supervisor for Skyline Tier forest restoration project, Todd specialises in restoration of forestry sites. Since 2007 he has managed over 350 hectares of ecological restoration work at the Scamander Pine Plantation on Skyline Tier. Todd provides technical advice to the World Heritage Area restoration projects.
Restoration projects in the World Heritage Area areas will address issues arising from previous logging such as weed control. Restoration will improve connectivity and the resilience of the restored and adjoining native forests. Fire disturbance is a natural feature of wet-sclerophyll forest and in most cases a required element in maintaining wet-sclerophyll forests. Ecological burns can contribute towards maintaining a diversity of species and forest succession ages.[CS1]
The use of local provenance eucalypt seed post-burning can assist in achieving good regeneration outcomes especially in areas where there are a limited amount of mature eucalypts in close proximity.
Oliver Strutt - Co-ordinator of the Understorey Network
Oliver has worked for over seven years on projects to promote the protection of existing native vegetation, and the use of local native understorey in revegetation. He is providing technical assistance and supervision of our field days to transplant local seedlings at Counsel 10B.
These trials are an important first for forest restoration. We hope to see the regeneration not just of the original trees such as Eucalyptus regnans, myrtle and sassafras, but also important understorey species which are a crucial part of the forest ecosystem. The understorey species are particularly important as they can out-compete weed species that might otherwise take over disturbed sites. To this end, the Understorey Network will assist with the follow up replanting that will be part of this project.
Mark Hovenden - Plant ecologist, Associate Professor at University of Tasmania
This project provides the best opportunity for successful ecological restoration of these sites, and provides UTAS with the opportunity to work on trials at the sites including trialling of seeding rates and species, and replanting density for rainforest species, to work out the best methodology for restoration of logged sites.
Fire is an integral part of Tasmania’s eucalypt forest ecosystems. Ecological burning after logging clears accumulated debris and provides an ash-bed rich in nutrients that when sown can produce vigorous and dense regeneration of eucalypts and other native species.
Environment Tasmania gratefully acknowledges the support of the following:
Parks and Wildlife Tasmania
The Wilderness Society
The Understorey Network
This project is supported by Environment Tasmania through funding from the Australian Government.
World Heritage Area Ecological Restoration Project
Restoring logged areas to tall eucalypt forest
The World Heritage Area ecological restoration project is working to restore 195 hectares of logged coupes in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, an area recognised internationally for its exceptional ecological values and vast array of plant and animal species. A process using a mix of ecological burning, seeding and planting will allow a wide selection of biodiverse native trees and shrub species to rehabilitate the logged area, restoring tall eucalypt forests, and providing habitat for animals, plants and birds. The project is funded by the Australian Government.
In 2013, ancient forests and giant eucalypts including the Great Western Tiers, Styx, Florentine, Picton and Weld were included in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
The World Heritage Area forest restoration project is working to restore seven recently logged coupes within Styx, Picton, Florentine that are part of this World Heritage Area extension. The sites for restoration work are all located within areas of pristine tall eucalypt forests, including the Styx Valley, the lower Florentine, Hartz Mountains, the Picton Valley near Federation Peak, and in the far south in the foothills of Mt La Perouse.
The project fulfils a primary objective of the current Tasmanian World Heritage Area Management Plan (under the World Heritage Convention) to rehabilitate sites damaged by logging or other human disturbance. In this management plan sites formerly used for forestry activities that would otherwise have only slow natural regeneration are identified as a key priority for rehabilitation. The project is being undertaken in close consultation with and with the support of the Parks and Wildlife Service, the land manager.
Our unique trial project is one of the most significant forest restoration projects in Australia, determining the best methods for restoring logged-over coupes to biodiverse native forest. The project vision is to restore and enhance the values of the tall forests of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The project will help protect and restore ecological connectivity and biodiversity, restoring the ecology of Eucalyptus delegatensis wet forests, and E.regnans and E. obliqua tall forests. As well as restoring forests and helping to tackle climate change, the project will create habitat and provide food and shelter for a diverse array of native mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. Full restoration of these forests will take still take over 100 years.
"These ecological trials will help us work out the best way to restore the forests, to reduce the risk of wildfire or arson, to control of pests and weeds, and to control and mitigate erosion."
Site Names Counsel 10B, Styx 19I, Tyenna 41A, Tyenna 51C, Catamaran 4C, Arve 2B, Picton 43E
Location Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area
Methodology Removal of logging debris by mechanical clearing or ecological burning, direct seeding, transplanting of local seedings, and follow up weed monitoring
Funding Australian Government Biodiversity Fund
- Ecological burning or mechanical clearing techniques manipulated to favour rainforest and understorey species. For example, cooler and patchier burns.
- Use of local provenance seed where possible, and otherwise in-zone seed. In-zone seed comes from the local area and has similar genetic composition.
- Seeding to restore original forest species composition. Trialling of seeding rates and local species compositions where practical.
- Stringent environmental guidelines to prevent introduction of weeds and diseases, including cleaning of all machinery entering the sites.
- Follow-up revegetation monitoring, weeding and planting by community groups. Assistance will be provided by the Understorey Network and a Wildcare group that is being established. For example, replanting trials with myrtle and leatherwood at the Counsel 10B site.
- Trialling the use of fenced enclosures to protect revegetation from browsing wildlife.
- Rehabilitation of tracks and access roads.
- The project has the active support of the Parks and Wildlife Service, the land manager. PWS are providing technical expertise. Expertise is also being provided by plant ecologists from the University of Tasmania.
About the project
Why burn? What alternatives are there to burning?
It is about cleaning up the mess left behind from logging operations. Unless the timber debris is removed, the original forest of rainforest and tall eucalypts is unlikely to revegetate a site – even with restoration work the sites will take hundreds of years to return to their original forest composition.
Alternatives are mechanical disturbance and /or direct planting and seeding. This option is being trialled at Tyenna 42A where there is significant standing vegetation and burning is not feasible.
Direct planting and seeding are not usually a good alternative to burning because of the large quantities of timber debris from logging operations which cover the ground. Many species have a low survival rate from direct planting, a key factor being animal browsing.
Mechanical disturbance using machinery to clear timber debris, though sometimes appropriate to specific site circumstances, will usually have a higher impact through soil compaction and the subsequent increased risk of erosion. Ecological burning mimics the natural bushfire process including creating the desirable ash bed and helps understorey species as well as eucalypts to grow much faster. The end result of ecological burning has been found to be a mix of eucalypts and understorey species with very similar composition to forest that returns after a natural bushfire.
What about the rainforest species?
The Wylds Craig restoration site (Counsel 10B) is adjacent to mixed forest including myrtle, celery top pine, sassafras, and leatherwood. Care has been taken to ensure that the ecological burn of the site in 2014 did not impact on the values of adjacent rainforest. The shape and size of the coupe (>50% of logged area within one tree height of a forested edge) means that these rainforest species will colonise naturally from the adjacent native forest. In addition, there will be follow up planting of myrtle and leatherwood on the site. Options for other replanting trials are being investigated.
Will local seed be used?
Where possible we use only local provenance seed. The short time frame for this project means that for sites in 2014 some in-zone seed was also needed. Tasmania has about 50 mapped seed zones, and in-zone seed in the site areas has been found to have closely similar genetic composition to local seed. Recent research at UTAS also indicates that browsing animals favour the less healthy non-local seedlings so that the final forest composition will have a composition that is almost entirely local provenance.
The eucalyptus species composition of each of these forest sites was recorded by Forestry Tasmania prior to logging, and the seeding ratios used will reflect this. Other species recorded in pre-harvest assessments will come back through seed banks in the ground, seed from adjacent forest, or plantings.
Why pay FT to do these burns? Isn’t it their job anyway if they logged the coupes?
The Parks and Wildlife Service is the land manager but does not have the capacity or expertise to undertake ecological restoration burns in logged forests. Forestry Tasmania is working closely with the Parks and Wildlife Service to ensure that the project addresses ecological objectives. And without Environment Tasmania funding for this restoration project, the window of opportunity to successfully restore these sites would have been lost, as these restoration activities need to occur within a few years of logging.
How is this ecological restoration work different from Forestry Tasmania’s burns for production forest?
For this project we are doing low intensity ecological burns to help to restore a forest damaged by logging back to a natural state as soon as is possible.
Forestry Tasmania carries out intense burns that encourage the dense growth of a crop of eucalypts which would be cut down again after 40-80 years. Our ecological burns are less severe and help to reduce the logging debris that blocks the growth of new trees. Our emphasis is on restoring all the elements of the original forest, such as rainforest and understorey species - not just eucalypts.
It is a long-term process. Even with our help, an old-growth forest that has been damaged by clearfelling will take between 100 and 400 years to return to its previous state.
This project is about ecological restoration rather than creating production forests, and includes planting and seeding trials to favour rehabilitation of rainforest species and the understorey. Forestry Tasmania does not plant or seed understorey or rainforest species as part of its regeneration of trees for wood production. In addition, burns will be carried out to favour rainforest species by doing milder slower burning. Advice on methodology is being provided by UTAS plant ecologists and PWS / DPIPWE specialist staff.
Can these sites be logged in the future, given the collapse of the TFA?
All sites are managed by the Parks and Wildlife Service and have World Heritage status.
These sites are protected in perpetuity as part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Where is the restoration work taking place?
Skyline Tier is located above Beaumaris near Scamander, on Tasmania’s East Coast.
Restoration work is adjacent to areas protected under the National Reserve system including the Scamander Forest Reserve and St Helens Point Conservation Area and will control weed threats to these reserves.
Why is it important to control the spread of pines?
Radiata pine is one of the few weeds that has the capacity to invade into undisturbed native vegetation, in particular dry Eucalypt forest and coastal ecosystems. As such, uncontrolled pine wilding germination can pose a significant risk to the ecological integrity of the surrounding native vegetation.
Control of pine wildlings at an early stage (before seed set) can save time and money. Costs of controlling pine may increase each year, depending on the methodology used to control them.
Site name: Skyline Tier
Location: East Coast Tasmania
Methodology: Manual and mechanical removal of pines, natural regeneration, weeding
Funding: Australian Government Biodiversity Fund
- Ecological burning to eliminate pine wildlings and pine seed from the soil and encourage the germination of the existing native seed store and sown seed. This is a rapid technique for use over large areas where pines dominate and the site is suitable for burning.
- Manual removal of pines by hand pulling, or cutting with loppers or hand saws with follow up poisoning. These methods are used at sites where pine wildlings are small and less dense, and growing amongst native vegetation.• Larger trees are cut down with chainsaws or with a Feller Buncher (a specialised harvesting machine). The trees are windrowed and left in-situ, or removed.
- Follow up weeding to control new germinates or missed plants. Other weed species are controlled by hand removal and/or herbicide use.
- Strategic rehabilitation of access roads and tracks.
- Removal of dumped rubbish such as car bodies and domestic rubbish.
- Reconnecting wildlife corridors between the coast and hinterland.
- Connecting coastal wetlands to inland forests, new reserves with existing reserves, public land with private land and connecting restored land to native tall eucalypt forest.
- Creating wildlife corridors and reducing weed threats.
- Restoring the upper and middle catchments of Dianas Basin, Yarmouth Creek, Wrinklers Lagoon, Dark Hollow Creek, Wetland and Freshwater Creeks.
- Promoting the recovery of threatened species and their habitat including the wedge-tailed eagle, giant velvet worm, swift parrot, chaostola skipper butterfly, green and gold frog, glossy hovea, lesser guinea flower and cane holy grass.
- Regenerating threatened forest communities such as Eucalyptus ovata (black gum forest) and Eucalyptus globulus (blue gum forest).
- Providing habitat for over 150 species of native plants including 8 Eucalyptus and 11 Acacia species.
Dianas Basin in 2006 prior to restoration work by NEBN. Diana’s Basin in 2008 after restoration work. Photos by Helen Morgan
Restoring plantation areas in north eastern Tasmania
Australian Government funding through the Biodiversity Fund will restore 350 hectares of former pine plantation on the hills overlooking Scamander, a popular holiday destination on Tasmania’s east coast.
The Skyline Tier Restoration Project is working to restore 350ha of Radiata pine plantation land back to native forest. A process of removal of pine wildlings, weeding and planting will allow biodiverse native trees and scrub species to rehabilitate the plantation area, and provide habitat for animals, plants and birds.
Flourishing Eucalypt forest regeneration on former pine plantation area at Skyline Tier behind Beaumaris, after weeded by the restoration crews in March 2014.
Flourishing Eucalypt forest regeneration on former pine plantation area at Skyline Tier behind Beaumaris, after weeded by the restoration crews in March 2014.
In the late 1960s to early 1970s about 2,000ha of native forest behind Scamander was converted to Radiata pine plantation. Clearfelling of the pines on steep slopes, clearly visible from the coast, triggered North East Bioregional Network (NEBN) to approach the land manager in 2003 to discuss ways to restore the plantation site to native forest. This was based on observations of natural regeneration occurring where pines had been harvested. Following the success of a 40ha trial, ongoing restoration work by the North East Bioregional Network volunteer team has restored over 350ha to date.
Now with Australian Government funding to restore an additional 350ha, the project is one of the most significant plantation restoration programs in Australia. Using Tasmania’s first dedicated professional ecological forest restoration crew, the project will develop best practice methodology for restoration of pine plantations.
The ecological benefits of the project are considerable and include reconnecting coastal and hinterland wildlife corridors, protection and recovery of threatened flora/fauna and vegetation communities and re-establishing the coastal catchments as native ecosystems. In addition, a highly visible coastal skyline will be protected from ongoing clearfelling. The Skyline Tier project is setting a precedent, demonstrating the biodiversity benefits of landscape scale ecological restoration while at the same time providing local employment and unifying the community.