Talking Trees

A Blog by John Halkett

Category: Forest

Akatarawa giant rātā – a secret New Zealand tree treasure

Akatarawa giant rātā in thick forest near Wellington.

The now New Zealand piece of the once great southern continent Gondwanaland drafted south before the Australian eucalypts evolved, but did, and still does, host a eucalypt ancestor, the Metrosideros trees, including the pohutukawa, or New Zealand Christmas Tree, plus the Northern and Southern rātā trees. So, no eucalypts (or snakes) made it onto the New Zealand as Gondwanaland fragmented – all those millions of years ago.

Talking about rātā trees, hidden in the Akatarawa Forest, near New

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When it’s cold the tough get going

Siberian larch – boreal forest.

The realm of the Siberian larch.

The largest forested region on the planet is the boreal coniferous tract, which accounts for about a third of the Earth’s total forest cover and dwarfs tropical rainforests. Boreal forests blanket a swathe around the Arctic Circle, across Alaska and into northern Canada. They cover about eight million square kilometres of Siberia alone, where they are known as the taiga. Vast amounts of carbon are lock up there, with so much biomass that worldwide levels of

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From tepees to a mainstay of Canada’s timber industry

Lodgepine forest

Lodgepole pine is a coniferous linchpin of forest ecosystems across a vast area that encompasses the western Canadian province of British Columbia and runs down the Rocky Mountains into the United States of America. It is a highly adaptable tree that can grow in all sorts of environments, from water-logged bogs to dry sandy soils.

Tall, straight and slender, it takes its name from the use of Canada’s first people for tepees, and by subsequent settlers for the construction of buildings. Also

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More than just wine bottle stoppers

Harvesting Cork Trees

Cork oak, Quercus suber a medium-sized, evergreen tree is the primary source of cork for wine bottle stoppers and other uses. It is native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. It grows to up to 20 metres, although it is typically more stunted in its native environment.

Cork oaks commonly live more than 200 years. Cork harvesting is done entirely without machinery. The European cork industry produces 340,000 tonnes of cork a year, with a value of €1.5 billion and employs 30,000 people.

The

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Rubber … from the Spanish Court to pneumatic tyres

Tapping a rubber tree

Rubber trees (Hevea bransiliensis) are tall deciduous trees growing to a height of up to 45 metres in the wild, but cultivated trees are usually much smaller because drawing off latex restricts growth. The inner bark oozes latex when damaged.

Native to the Amazon and Orinoco river basins of Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia, rubber trees where originally called caoutchouc, from the indigenous cauchy, or ‘weeping wood’. The rubber tree is a member of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge) family. Its

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More trees – you will feel better

Couple walking dog in forest

As if being renewable, storing carbon and contributing to climate change mitigation isn’t enough – trees make you feel better – true! It’s not stretching the point to say your health and well-being are likely to be improved if you walk amongst the trees.

Increasing urbanisation means that people have less access to nature in their daily lives. Australians on average now spend about 90 per cent of their time indoors. This coincides with reports of increasing obesity and nearly half of Australians

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Antarctica forests

John in Antarctica that may in fact have once hosted forests.

Just back from southern South America and Antarctica having a firsthand look at climate change impacts. With a surface area in excess of 14 million square kilometres Antarctica is larger than Europe, and almost twice the size of Australia. As much as 98 per cent of the continent’s surface is covered in thick, compacted ice, reaching an average depth of over a two kilometres. Recent scientific discoveries suggest that this ‘forgotten continent’ – sometimes nicknamed the Great

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Singapore’s concrete and steel Supertrees

Singapore’s 18 Supertrees have become shorthand for Singapore itself, in much the same way that the Eiffel Tower says Paris.

Known for doing things on a grand scale, the stylish city of Singapore has created the ultimate green space, but with a difference. Its city forest, built from concrete and steel is nonetheless a celebration of trees, and now the city’s distinguishing tourist attraction. The city’s futuristic Supertree Grove of 18 Supertrees has become shorthand for Singapore itself, in much the same way that the Eiffel Tower says Paris. Each Supertree consists of a trunk

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Uncrowned king of trees

3000 year old olive tree … foremost tree in early human culture and commerce.

Among the foremost trees in early human culture and commerce was the olive. From the dawn of recorded history the olive has enjoyed a status and prestige not shared by any other plant. Although many of the events in the early story of the olive are shrouded in mystery, the tree has been feted as the precursor to modern civilization.

It was the olive tree that was acknowledged as ‘the first of trees’. In the Bible’s book of Judges, Chapter 9, Verse 8 is written: “The trees went

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Big Victorian mountain ash tree in Nelson

The impressive mountain ash forests of Victoria are for height, size and grandeur, unequalled among the world’s hardwood trees.

Went to Nelson at the top end of New Zealand’s South Island recently to visit my brother Lawrie. While there we hunted out the locally well-known Barrington Gum. It’s an Australian mountain ash (Eucalyptus regans) thought to have been planted on then open farm land about 1860. It is now embedded within a radiata pine plantation. The tree was officially measured in 2009 and at that time had a height of 72.1 metres and a diameter of 2.4 metres. The tree is listed in the New Zealand

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