FOBIF members have made several visits to the south end of the Diggings Park to monitor the effects of a very severe management burn conducted near the Wewak track in Autumn last year. On our latest visit, on February 7, we came to the following tentative conclusions:
1. Recovery of species has been good. Good rain has provided excellent recovery conditions, and we will report on the detailed monitoring of the area by Castlemaine Field Naturalists in due course, as well as DSE monitoring, if any. There has been an outbreak of thistles, a lot of which we’ve pulled out and taken away, and dandelions, possibly because of the large areas of bare earth created.
2. Because of the severity of the burn, there are plenty of dead trees, some of them quite big. The evident intention of DSE operatives seems to have been to burn the bark from the many stringybarks in the area, but we can’t believe it was DSE’s intention to create thousands of eucalypt seedlings. It seems that in a very short while there’ll be a more dangerous fuel load down there than there was before the burn, and the tree cover much denser than is desirable, ecologically speaking.
3. There’s been some erosion, more than on the unburned areas down that way, and there’s still a fair bit of bare ground.
We are currently negotiating with Parks Victoria to have a joint visit to the area to get their opinion of what has been achieved in this operation. This is of particular importance to us given that burns on the adjacent Limestone track and around Smutta’s track [on the other side of the Loddon River] are DSE’s program. Both of these areas are much steeper than the Loop track area: and we have already had occasion to worry about DSE’s procedures in this area [See ‘Burning concerns’ and ‘A gap in the records’ in our News Archive] [Feb 11 2011]