Snow Gums (Eucalyptus pauciflora) are the classic alpine tree of the High Country, generally growing at heights between 1,300 and 1,800 metres asl. Anyone who has visited the Australian High Country will know – and probably love – these trees.
In recent decades, wildfire has been devastating huge areas of the Snow Gum forests, with significant fires in the Victorian High Country in 1998, 2002/3, 2006/7, 2013 and 2019/20. More than 90% of Snow Gum habitat has been burnt at least once in the last 20 years.
The species can survive fire. However, climate change driven fire seasons are leading to more frequent fire, which is causing more death of trees and changes to forest structure. In some instances, localised collapse of Snow Gum woodlands is now being observed. As climate scientist Michael Mann describes it, we are now seeing climate change play out in real time.
We must ask whether we are now seeing the start of the collapse of Snow Gum woodlands, one of Victoria’s iconic vegetation communities.
Friends of the Earth has been tracking the loss of trees due to repeat fire – details here.
There is also a project to track and log dieback of snow gums caused by beetles. Details here.
But there is still hope, and wonderful landscapes to explore.
While the snow gum forests are getting younger as fire frequency gets shorter, there are still many thousands of old and graceful elder trees across the Alps.
It would be great if you wanted to share an image of your favourite tree/s. Please email to firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the comments below.
Please add a note with a rough location – eg, ‘100m south of the summit of Mt Clear, VIC Alps’.
Thanks. Let’s remember to celebrate the precious trees that remain.
Here’s a few
Above: Just north of Dinner Plain, VIC Alps
Above: JB Plain, VIC Alps
Above: On Mt Wills, VIC Alps
Above: Long Spur Track, Alpine national park, VIC Alps
Above: In Dinner Plain village, VIC Alps
Above: Fire survivors, Kelly Hut, Bogong High Plains
Above: Just south of Dinner Plain village, VIC Alps
Above: Just east of Cope hut, Bogong High Plains
Above: Just near Bluff Spur hut, Mt Stirling, VIC Alps
Above: Just on the treeline, east of Mt Howitt summit, VIC Alps
Above: Burnt country on the Howitt Plains that has pockets of old trees hanging on