Huon Pines

A global treasure of ancient Huon pine groves has been found in the Wilson River valley south of Waratah in the takayna / Tarkine wilderness.

The issue

A global treasure of ancient Huon pine groves has been found in the Wilson River valley south of Waratah in the takayna / Tarkine wilderness.

With Huon pines stretching for over 25 kilometres throughout the catchment it is the most extensive contiguous, intact and unlogged Huon pine forest that remains in Tasmania – and hence the world

Photo: Explainer 

These are extraordinary, ancient trees – weathered by floods and time, twisted and gnarled. Through the centuries upper limbs have been colonised by mosses, lichens and ferns – and even other trees.

Huon pines here that have been measured at close to 2m diameter are estimated to be 2500 years old. They are the second oldest discrete trees in the world, after the amazing Bristlecone pines.  

Photo: Explainer 

These are extraordinary, ancient trees – weathered by floods and time, twisted and gnarled. Through the centuries upper limbs have been colonised by mosses, lichens and ferns – and even other trees. Huon pines here that have been measured at close to 2m diameter are estimated to be 2500 years old. They are the second oldest discrete trees in the world, after the amazing Bristlecone pines.  

Groves of pines are thought in many cases to not be multiple trees, but a single or a few distinct entities only. Trees grow and roots swim into soil. From these roots and from fallen trees and limbs other trees begin, and the process continues – indefinitely!

The multi-aged off-river groves that Huon pines typically form may have lived and died and kept on living since the end of the last ice age, 10,000 years ago. Here is the mystery and lure of a tree that, theoretically at least, may be immortal.

Extensively historically logged for its highly valued, rot-resistant, fragrant timber, Huon pine has been subject to dramatic disturbance.

Although widespread as a species, about 90% of all stands of Huon pine have been disturbed to some extent by logging, and more by historical mining and fire. Fortunately the Wilson River has largely escaped this anthropogenic onslaught.

Photo: Explainer 

Photo: Explainer

Extensively historically logged for its highly valued, rot-resistant, fragrant timber, Huon pine has been subject to dramatic disturbance.
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Although widespread as a species, about 90% of all stands of Huon pine have been disturbed to some extent by logging, and more by historical mining and fire. Fortunately the Wilson River has largely escaped this anthropogenic onslaught.

Lush Huon pine forests grow at prospective mine locations. Venture Mineral’s mining plans would bring holes in mountains, tailings dams and rock dumps, major haulage roads, mine infrastructure, access for Huon pine poachers, weeds, loss of wilderness, toxic run-off and a massively increased risk of fire to this wild and remote rainforested valley. The most extensive intact Huon pine catchment that remains on the planet would become a privatised industrial zone.

Photo: Explainer

Photo: Explainer

Two years ago Rob Blakers, Jarrah Vercoe and Nick Fitzgerald walked and pack-rafted down the 40km long Wilson River to its junction with the now-flooded Pieman River. They found the river lined with Huon pines with intact groves of giant pines more than a thousand years old back in the rainforest. Rob has since made several return journeys and in February 2022 took scientists Charley Gros and Kasey McNamara, and Bob Brown and Paul Thomas for a three-day pack rafting trip there.

“Venture Minerals’ proposed Mt Lindsay tin mine, tailings dam and crushing plant in this catchment must be scrapped. There are 300 tin mines operating or ready to go in the world and the natural integrity of the Wilson Valley must not be sacrificed just to add one more. Tin is abundant but Huon pine groves are rare and intact catchments like this were thought to no longer exist. There is the solitary, remote Olegas Truchanas Huon Pine Forest on the Denison River which was threatened by a bushfire last month, but the rest of the Denison, like the Franklin, Gordon, Davey and Huon was logged.”

Photo: Explainer

Brown has written to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition calling for them to securely protect the Tarkine and nominate for national and World Heritage status and to end Venture Minerals’ destructive mining activities. After Mt Lindsay, Venture plans a ‘Big Wilson’ tin mine right in the heart of the Huon pine province.

“The whole Wilson catchment must be protected: it is destined to be another Tasmanian icon. We would like to work with the government to plan management of this treasure so the public will be able to enjoy it too”

Bob Brown

 

Photo: Explainer

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