New information on old trees

Recent radiocarbon dating tests confirmed that a logged old growth tree on Brown Mountain East Gippsland was growing before Christopher Columbus sailed to America, and was young when Joan of Ark was riding around France.

The results show there is a 68% chance that the age lies between 1435 and 1490 AD.

This is a significant find and rewrites scientific understanding of the age of our old growth trees. It should now see the government value and protect all our remaining ancient forests – not just as natural relics but also as ancient carbon stores. In an hour this tree was cut down, yet it took over 600 years to grow and store the carbon in its bulk. It was still a healthy growing tree when cut down.

This Shining Gum (E. denticulata) was logged in January ’09 but was relatively small compared to some of its neighbours that are over 12 metres in circumference. This size would make them nearly 800 years old.

Victoria’s Labor government promised to protect the last significant stands of old growth forest in 2006. Since then hundreds of hectares have been cut down. The new information shows these forests need immediate protection can never be replaced on logging cycles of 50-80 years.

If these were human relics they would be carefully protected in museums, but instead they have been clearfelled and sold off primarily for cheap export woodchips.

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