Not all trees benefit this subtropical rainforest. Camphor laurel is one of them and we are working to remove a huge number of this species from a reforestation site in NSW. Our primary planting site during May was in Federal NSW. Federal is a village in the Northern Rivers region 20 kilometres west from Byron Bay. The property we are working on is common sight in Federal, many hectares of cleared pasture land with borders of rainforest and acacia trees, and clusters within the cleared areas. The clusters of forests on the properties and their borders here connect closely to Nightcap National Park which is only a few kilometres west again. Reforesting these paddocks will support the birds and species that are confined to a shrinking rainforest. The boarders of rainforests are important buffering zones to concentrate plantings on so as to strengthen the existing fragments and the larger rainforest that sits closely to this region. We are planning 40,000 trees to be planted on this site. We reached over 4,000 here this month and these trees are now establishing their roots and we are monitoring them for any signs of stress. This helps us learn about the site and check and learn from our species choice and site considerations when preparing and maintaining the trees. Alongside planting on this site we have been clearing the next area for trees. Unfortunately, reforesting and establishing a native ecosystem sometimes means we need to remove existing trees and species that do not serve the site or ecology. Camphor Laurel is one of these. What is a Camphor laurel? Native to Taiwan, Japan and parts of China, camphor laurel was introduced to Australia in 1822 as a garden ornamental. Since then, feral populations have established from the Atherton Tableland in north Queensland to Victoria. Camphor laurel is common in South East Queensland. Camphor laurel is an attractive shade tree but can be very invasive, replacing pasture and native vegetation. Camphor laurel is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014. Why do we remove Camphor laurel trees?
The camphor laurel has many negative impacts on this ecosystem. It is very fast spreading and aggressively replaces native vegetation. It spreads a chemical from its roots which is poisonous to native trees and vegetation around it and so it inhibits the growth of natives among its roots and under its canopy. Camphors do not provide any food to our native animals or birds either. They are particularly affecting koalas as they replace native trees including blue gums, the koalas preferred food. On a reforestation property camphors will inhibit the roots of new trees we plant from establishing themselves with the strength to grow to a canopy size due to the chemical it seeps from the roots. How do we remove them? We are performing staged removal of camphor laurel by edaricating approximately one third of them from the canopy so after three years rainforest has taken over. Landholders are encouraged to control isolated and scattered camphor laurel trees. Federal will soon be ready for another round of planting when camphor laurels are cleared and the grass is cut back. RN