Before our forebears arrived with axes and chainsaws, the old growth forest full of 90mt tall giants covered 80% of the Central Highlands (north-east of Healesville). Now only 1% survives.
The old-growth is almost gone and on the verge of being unrecoverable. One more bush fire could send it the way of the Thylacine, and the regenerating logged forest and regrowing burnt forest less than 20-30 years old would be turned into wattle scrub, killing off the seeding potential of the immature eucalypts.
In research published in US journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, David Lindenmayer, from Australian National University said the forest is one of the saddest things he’s ever seen in 30 years of ecological science. “What we are seeing is a truly iconic forest evaporating before our eyes and it will never be the same again”.
”If it collapses into acacia scrub, it is impossible to get out again. It really is a catastrophe in the true sense of the word.” Losing the tall Mountain Ash forests has a huge impact on wildlife (40 species of wildlife in the CH rely on tree hollows), water supply for Melbourne’s catchments and carbon dioxide emissions.
A 2009 paper found the central highlands’ forest was the most carbon-dense in the world. Read more here