Tag Archives: The New Wild

Camphor Laurel. (Cinnamomum camphora )

The arguments for and against camphor laurel are once again being aired. This, I think reflects more about how humans live at such odds with each other, with the environment only as a vague back drop.

I had 20 established and immature camphors growing here when I returned to the property 22 years ago.  I chopped them down and then continued by touring these stumps every 3 weeks when I would break off any new growth. Within a year most stumps had succumbed and had begun to break down. This approach had 2 major advantages, I wasn’t poisoning the soil – as camphor roots can extend 30 metres in any direction and any poison used will carry to the roots extent, ( any sprouting from these extended roots I broke off ). The other advantage was that I was able to closely observe what was beginning to grow around the disabled camphor. As more moisture was made available rain forest seeds, such as pencil and red cedar, celery wood and tamarind, sprouted.  Now, with the decline of the white-headed pigeon in this valley over the last 5 years, I am not seeing any camphor seedlings beneath where the pigeons roosted.  If I now see a lone camphor in the rain forest I leave it,  simply because the surrounding canopy will contain it.

I probably wouldn’t remove the camphor trees now as I did way back then.  There was so much misinformation peddled and its only been my acceptance of observing nature as my teacher over the years I see how wrong some of my earlier approaches to regeneration were.  A 1788er then, an idealized vision of “how it was” was so smug and arrogant. Nature is always in flux and with the vast niches humans created with our rush to turn Australia into some European ideal, its great that there are species to fill those niches and protect what is left of our fragile soil.

With their naturalization in this Shire, the camphor laurels existence has provided survival for many birds whom Europeans deprived of their original food source when whole sale clearance began of the native forests.

Any growing tree is storing carbon. Also, scientists who have studied the insect life existing from the camphor, have found a great variety. When we were removing jump-seed from the public road sides, to prevent whole sale spraying with herbicides, we were often accompanied by the Black cockatoo with their young who feast on the ripening fruit.

What I find difficult in the local argument is why haven’t we established small-scale milling enterprises ?  With imported wood now surrounded by environmental, ethical and sustainability questions, why aren’t we sustainably harvesting camphor for domestic furniture plus and returning the land to either food production or new forest ?

As Stephen Jay Gould said ( one of the planet’s great evolutionary biologists) ‘ punctuated equilibrium’, and that evolution wasn’t a continual process but happened mostly in bursts after major disruptions. He went on to say that ecologists were wrong to see anything as innately superior about stable ecosystems because disruption was essential to evolution. It provided chances for new species to evolve. Similarly, the notion that’ native must be best, for native has been honed to optimality in the refiner’s fire of Darwinian competition’ was a ‘persuasive misreading of natural selection, and an evolutionary fallacy.

Fred Pearce.



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Myths of the Pristine………………Fred Pearce.

We live in what geologists are now calling the new Anthropocene, an epoch in which the planet is shaped primarily by humans. We need to get used to it. But we shouldn’t be depressed. For while one lesson of the Anthropocene is that nothing is pristine, another is that nature is resilient and resourceful. And while many endangered species are vulnerable to our activities, others like us. Humankind is not always bad news for nature. Some forests died, but others grew up to replace them. By breeding some species as crops and livestock, we increased the genetic diversity. And by moving species around the world ( as humans have been doing for thousands of years ) we have dramatically increased local biodiversity on a local level and which may have sometimes triggered a burst of evolution.



We have assaulted forests on a huge scale, yet where we have walked away, they have generally revived. This is especially true in the tropics, the area of our greatest current environmental concern. ” So called virgin forests have in fact undergone substantial prehistoric modification” says Kathy Willis. ” tropical forest eco systems are not as fragile as often potrayed, are in fact quite resilient. Left for long enough, forests will almost certainely regenerate”. There is, she says, no reason why that should not remain the case in the 21st century. The new forests won’t be pristine. But then, they never were.

From Myths of the Pristine.   THE NEW WILD      Fred Pearce.

In our present regeneration working site, as we unpeel the layers of lantana, tiny emerging rain forest are visible where a little light has been able to get through. In the site where we slashed, layered and pulled lantana last year, already a mass of scotch thistle, farmers friends and Giant devils claw ( remove the root of this one ) have flowered, and seeded, in the case of the thistle. I remove what ever maybe too close to an emerging rain forest tree and leave the rest for ground cover.  Next year, when the red, white and pencil cedars plus 10 more varieties of rain forest tree, have establish canopy ( yes, growth is incredibly fast ) another layer of introduced plants will colonize where the thistles ect grew. Within 5 years canopy shade will block out most introduced plants. Just as lantana filled the niche overgrazing and tree removal provided, now the thistle ect are the next plant stage which is nourishing and protecting our remaining soil.



And Denmark’s new tax.


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Saturday. 27th February.

Another momentous week, visitors, meeting new herbicide free workers and our campaign with-in the Shire gathering momentum. Shame though that personal and false attacks have been directed at those of us who  have been steadfast in our dispersal of fact regarding the herbicides in wide spread use within the Shire. Its our responsibility to inform and as most of us are hands on, our role is to challenge when we observe bad practice.

A sad reflection too on the state of debate, fact competing against vested interests. Unfortunately its a country wide reality.

On the news last week we were told Monsanto and other chemical companies contribute millions to the pesticide watch-dog who oversees herbicide regulation.

Read the introduction to Fred Pearce’s The New Wild.


The New Wild

Author…..   Fred Pearce…..    Publisher Icon Books (2015) ISBN9781848318342   Description … Why invasive species will be nature’s salvation

This sign has appeared at the turn off to our valley. Thanks to who ever has placed it. Its good to see others now getting involved and the silent dissent is becoming active.


The photo below is of the trunk of a bangalow palm tree. I think its beautiful.


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