What was it like, way back then?

The idea of ‘land restoration’ suggests that the land can be restored to a better condition than the one it’s now in. The question is, what qualities might that ‘better condition’ have?

For a partial answer to that question for our region, have a look at Forgotten Woodlands, Future Landscapes, on Ian Lunt’s ecology blog. Using a number of resources, including the 1852 Selwyn map, Lunt points out that in the early 19th century Silver Banksias and Casuarinas were far more common than they are now, and that their destruction has severely impoverished our treescape. What’s more, their disappearance has led to a severe decline in some bird species.

Mount Alexander: its granite ridges were once covered with a variety of trees, especially Banksias and Casuarinas.

Mount Alexander: its granite ridges were once covered with a variety of trees, especially Banksias and Casuarinas.

The Selwyn map recorded the ridges of Mount Alexander, for example, as covered with ‘sheoak, gum box and honeysuckle [ie, Banksia]’. An 1875 geology report observed that Casuarinas and Banksias were ‘especially characteristic’ of higher granite ridges in Victoria.

Now, a single banksia survives on the Mount, and casuarinas are uncommon in our bushlands.

If you want to find out why, this provocatively interesting article is a must read. You can find the Selwyn Map via our March 2013 post.

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