What a difference a decade makes

Check out the two photos below, taken at the same point on the Porcupine Ridge road, 11 years apart:

The top photo was taken in August 2012, at the height of a Cup Moth infestation. The bottom photo was taken last week. Notice the difference?

In 2012 the charmingly attractive and very unpleasant Cup Moth (Doratifera sp) was laying waste to our bushlands, and especially the Red Stringybark eucalypts. The bush was pretty dismal, and it wasn’t hard to find people wondering if the forest was actually going to die.

As you can see from the above photos, predictions of doom were at least premature. Tree recovery has been good. You can still, however, see signs of the past crisis, in the number of  trees which have only partly recovered, and the number which didn’t survive the attack.

Porcupine Ridge Road, February 2023: skeletal branches and dead trees are reminders of insect attack ten years ago, but forest recovery has been good.

These observations are necessarily crude. What we’d really like is to see the detailed monitoring done by managers over the last 20 years as part of their fuel reduction program. This forest has weathered a long drought, serious insect infestations and management fire over this period. What has been the result, in detail? We don’t know, because we haven’t seen the abovementioned monitoring, if it exists.

The bush on the right of the photos above is scheduled for a management burn in the next couple of years [see our posts here and here].

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