Nan vs dam: ‘Precious’ trees discovered in Dunoon dam area
A NUMBER of "precious" water gums, so old and tall they may set a new record for size, have been discovered in the area where the proposed Dunoon dam will be located.
Rainforest botanist Nan Nicholson and her husband Hugh found the specimens over the weekend.
According to the botanist, the area includes 55ha of subtropical rainforest as well as the 7ha of warm-temperate rainforest.
"We visited this extremely rare warm-temperature rainforest on sandstone in The Channon Gorge, with extremely large specimens," she said.
"Of the 7ha of land, six of them would be destroyed by the dam, so the one hectare left would be pretty useless I think."
Mrs Nicholson said they found at least 20 water gums.
"There is probably more than that. I should go and count them," she said.
"This is within the seven hectares in the warm-temperature component of the lowland rainforest endangered ecological community."
Tristaniopsis laurina, or water gum, is a native tree species that usually grows near the eastern coastline and along the banks of streams.
Water gums have a slow rate of growth, and can grow up to 39m tall in native habitats.
The Channon resident said it was hard to tell how old these specimens were.
"My suspicions is that these trees would have been (there from) pre-European times, because they are so large," she said.
"But The Channon was settled late, around 1900, so they only have to be 120 years old to be pre-European.
"They've had a lot of damage, poor things.
"They are beautiful things because they are so big.
"We can't say it's never been logged, and in fact we found a stump in there, but it's so bouldery, rocky and difficult that I don't think much would have been done in there.
"It's not worth clearing for grazing either, because it's porous soil, sandstone never has very good grass, so it's very pristine but I can't claim is absolutely pristine."
The botanist said the trees were in the area that will be destroyed by the dam wall, and in the area directly below the dam wall.
"This doesn't mean they will be safe, because the Terrestrial Ecology Report says that these seven hectares of warm-tempered rainforest stretching from the wall downstream will be destroyed," she said.
Mrs Nicholson said the reports detailing the biodiversity that would be impacted by the Dunoon dam does not go far enough.
"It's very hastily done, I've done a very brief flora survey myself and I came out with many species than the flora survey didn't find, including some threatened ones," she said.