MAY 2015 ACTIVITY - Joint Friends of Kooyoora and Wedderburn CMN Eucalyptus Discovery Day
By Wendy Murphy
16 people met at Inglewood in fantastic weather for the joint group trip looking at differing aspects of the eucalyptus harvesting industry. Our first stop was the Bosisto’s blue mallee plantations in Glenalbyn, which were begun in 2012, with over 2.5 million trees now in the ground. Des Lamprell was our guide for the day and gave us a fantastic run down of how the trees planted in the plantation are ’super trees’ specially bred over 12 years to be high oil yielding. He then explained the harvesting technique used including some of the troubles they encounter, like the harvester sometimes pulling trees out as it goes.
Our next stop was the seed orchard, where each tree is numbered and when seed is collected and trees grown from it and planted in the plantation, a complete record is kept and the progeny of every single tree in that orchard can be located in the plantation of 2.5 million trees. If a tree is deemed unfit to produce ‘super trees’ it is simply removed from the orchard (i.e. cut down!)
Then it was on to the distillery, and the wonderful smell of eucy oil freshened up the air. Des showed us around the harvesting machine and the distillery. It was really interesting to learn how the whole distilling process now happens in the back of the trucks the leaves are harvested in to. It was also lovely to feel the warmth of the boiler, even though the weather was nice, you could just imagine it would be the place to work in the middle of winter. I’m not sure about summer though!
It was hard to leave the distillery, but we had to have lunch. A change of plan saw us drive a short distance through the bush to the Glenalbyn camping ground to enjoy our quick lunch surrounded by Kooyoora State Park.
We drove on to Wedderburn where we met up with Jeroen van Veen of the Wedderburn CMN. The group has a project running to return a decommissioned harvesting site back to more natural conditions. This includes removing some of the mallee regrowth and seeding the rows with understorey species. The main aim being to create more suitable habitat for local malleefowl, of which there are two active mounds nearby. Paul Foreman was asked to design the project with much of the work being carried out by the Conservation Volunteers Australia and Green Army teams. It is certainly a long-term project and it will be interesting to see the results.
This was our last stop and from here we travelled back to our homes after gathering so much information and a better understanding of how the eucalyptus harvesting industry works and how others are working to improve decommissioned sites back to natural conditions.