Just to add to this discussion, Brett Summerell (Director of Research and Chief Botanist at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens) estimates that between 3 billion and 7 billion trees have burnt so far this season in Australian bushfires. I don’t know how much this translates into loss of tree hollows or, indeed, the creation or hastening of the creation of new ones.
From: Birding-Aus <> On Behalf Of Philip Veerman
Sent: 9 February 2020 4:35 PM
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Land of the smokey bears
I can understand the observation Chris makes. If a tree with hollows burns, the hollow may allow the fire to cause increased damage (compared to a solid tree) and may make the tree more likely to collapse. Or it may just be that trees with hollows are older and thus more likely to fall over, than younger trees and that is the difference.
Even so, I am not convinced that fires might not speed up the hollow forming process in previously healthy trees. I am not advocating fires for that purpose!
An easier and far more obvious reason Australia doesn't have woodpeckers is that they are a northern hemisphere group that have never arrived here. For the same reason, other parts of the world don’t have many of our bird groups. We also don’t have vultures, laughing-thrushes, toucans, shrikes, etc……….
I remember reading somewhere the reason Australia doesn't have woodpeckers is that we don't have trees which are suitable for them to hammer their bills into. Even the rainforest trees don't on the whole suit woodpeckers. I'm ready to be nay-sayed on this!!
On 9/02/2020 3:02 PM, Chris Corben wrote:
Someone with more expertise than me should answer that.
What I have seen numerous times is that even low intensity burns can selectively cause trees with hollows in them to fall over, while having little apparent effect on younger trees.
On 2/8/2020 9:44 PM, Philip Veerman wrote:
About “if you just think of the loss of hollow trees, which happens as a result of ANY burning.” Yes that may well be true but can it also be the case that fires might increase the amount of available hollows in trees by damaging trees and allowing hollows to form in trees before the process of hollow formation would normally happen due to aging. Just asking……..
*From:*Birding-Aus [m("birding-aus.org","birding-aus-bounces");">] *On Behalf Of *Chris Corben
*Sent:* Sunday, 9 February, 2020 2:26 PM
*Subject:* Re: [Birding-Aus] Land of the smokey bears
In the USA, I have heard many people speak about the importance of regular burning to improve and protect habitats. As an Australian, this has always felt odd to me, though recently I have read some material suggesting that in the USA this view is changing. In any case, the Australian landscape is very different, even if you just think about the extreme importance of hollows in old trees for wildlife, which is far more significant in Australia than elsewhere. And Australia doesn't have Woodpeckers! I also note that in the USA, many habitats we see have been hugely modified by Native American burning, so that there is perceived value in returning it to that state, not to any prehuman state. It is a complicated mess, but at least in Australia, if you just think of the loss of hollow trees, which happens as a result of ANY burning, (not to mention hazard tree removal!), it is easy to conclude that fire needs to be thought through very carefully and not controlled by knee-jerk reactions to particular events.
On 2/8/2020 6:36 PM, Geoffrey Dabb wrote:
I found the below link about the now slightly contentious ,
perhaps outdated, Smokey Bear, an emblem of the agency in the
United States that manages National Parks - real national parks,
that is, not like our State-managed parks that are labelled
‘National’ in imitation of those Americans. Some entertain the
idea that some quite large wildfires should be allowed to burn
unchecked to avoid really serious fires. I don’t believe the
‘thinking’ in Australia has gone quite that far, but we are going
to hear quite a lot about beneficial controlled fires, a subject
complicated by the absence of a national agency with any
responsibility in this area.
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