Regeneration in the Lapoinya Forest

After a long and tumultuous campaign to save 49 local hectares of native forest in 2015/2016, the forest was eventually clear felled and scheduled for an intensive burn and regeneration sowing using only three eucalypt types. The idea of the mixed native forest floor being sterilized and being replaced with a native plantation was abhorrent to the adjacent local community so a series of discussions with then Forestry Tasmania (now rebranded Sustainable Timbers Tasmania) attempted to intervene in the process. It was agreed that the intensive burn would be scaled down to a light burn with some medium temperature burns in areas of greatest burden.

Autumn 2016 was not conducive to such a regime and so an attempt was made in early May 2017.  A light burn requires a very specific set of temperatures and humidity in the atmosphere, fuel load and surrounding bush. These parameters are complicated by the very narrow band of wind direction required to bypass the local houses, the coastal population and adjoining rural townships as well as the nature of clear felling which lays a heavy mulching burden on the land.  The May 2017 burn was not successful and only some areas of heavy burden such as the bark dumps (see photo below) were reduced. This begs the question whether the burn/regeneration plan at this stage is a viable one.  Whilst there is some natural regeneration occurring in the coupe, it was noted in a survey done by the North Central Field Naturalists Society in March 2017, that is was spotty and hindered by the burden of the clear felling trash.  There was notable regeneration along road sides and lightly covered areas (as shown in the photo to the left) as well as stump sprouting.
It is evident that the process and nature of the clear felling process in the Lapoinya Forest has hindered its ability to naturally regenerate and the modified burn plan will take a number of seasons to complete so that the sowing of select species can take place.

Meanwhile, it is of great research interest to monitor the reestablishment of a mixed native forest in an area previously earmarked for a native plantation. It will also be heartening to witness the re-emergence of a viable and diverse ecosystem and habitat from one demolished by the internationally unacceptable method of clear felling and burning.