one day at a time…
Thursday, 11 December 2003

Pix Of The Day: Disquiet Deep In The Forest
CREDIT: © The Wilderness Society/Wilderness.org.au
WHERE: Tasmania, Australia. WHAT:giant swamp gum (Eucalyptus regnans) tree.
MAPS: Tasmania. Thumbnail click pops-up larger image.

El Grande © The Wilderness SocietyThe largest living thing outside of North America was discovered in 2002. It was the largest flowering plant in the world. It was the largest hardwood tree in the world. It was 350 years old, 79 metres (260 feet) tall, and was given the soubriquet 'El Grande'. It grew in the Florentine Valley, west of Hobart, Tasmania. It was a swamp gum, or mountain ash tree, of the classification Eucalyptus regnans.

The state authority, Forestry Tasmania, took the tree into their care. Early in 2003 a controlled burn became anything but, and the tree was badly burned. On 15 April 2003 Forestry Tasmania issued a press release, which began, 'Derwent District Forest Manager Steve Whiteley said today that Tasmania's largest hardwood tree, 'El Grande', has once again demonstrated the natural resilience eucalypts have to fire.' Yesterday Forestry Tasmania general manager of operations, Kim Creak, admitted, 'A group of forest scientists has conducted an assessment of the condition of the tree. Unfortunately, it is deceased.' There have been calls to suspend logging operations to protect other tall trees.

The debacle has brought worldwide attention to the Tasmanian forestry industry, though there have been accusations that Tasmanians and the Tasmanian media are apathetic. The Wilderness Society has a report from Alan Gray, the consultant botanist who said the tree was dead way back in April. The ForestryTasmania.com web site (no connection with the official body with a similar name) has information on the Tasmanian forestry industry, which is overseen by Tasmania Forestry (the official body) as described on their web site.

El Grande was the largest tree by volume, but there are taller Eucalyptus trees, including one declared for publicity purposes to be the world's tallest Christmas tree. Other botanical records may be found on Wayne P. Armstrong's Wayne's Word web site, which lists the world's tallest tree as a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), standing 367 feet (112 metres), and the tallest swamp gum (Eucalyptus regnans), at 322 feet (98 metres). Also mentioned is the 1872 report, by William Ferguson, of an E. regnans said to measure 18 feet (5.5 metres) in diameter and 435 feet (132 metres) in height. Environmentalists hope that interest in these individual record holders will raise awareness of larger issues in the forestry debate.

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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)