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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

They're true-blue giants, by gum

The Mercury: They're true-blue giants, by gum [14dec05]

TWO giant Tasmanian blue gums have joined the ranks of Australia's largest trees.

The humble blue gum, or Eucalyptus globulus, had never before featured on Tasmania's list of giant trees.

The two blue gums, which are 85m and 92m in height, are the tallest of their type in Australia.

The two trees are immediately adjacent to a logged and burnt coupe in the Huon Valley.

University of Tasmania zoologist Wally Herrmann, who searches the state for giant trees, first measured the trees in September and nominated them for inclusion on Forestry Tasmania's Giant Trees Register.

The trees were officially measured by Forestry Tasmania last week and have been added to the list.

The 92m specimen is ranked the 5th largest tree in Tasmania, behind four Eucalyptus regnans.

Most of the trees on Forestry's register of 69 giants, which must be at least 85m tall, are regnans.

Mr Herrmann has discovered many trees on the list, including the 350-year-old "El Grande" which was accidentally torched by Forestry in 2003.

He yesterday said the recent find was extremely significant and meant the blue gum had joined the world's "big league" of tall trees.

But Mr Herrmann said the trees' close proximity to a logged coupe was worrying.

"It's disturbing that these trees were found immediately adjacent to a logged and burnt coupe," he said.

"There could well have been trees equally big or bigger in the logged area adjacent to these giant blue gums.

"These trees themselves could still be destroyed by wind or disease because the adjacent protective forest has been flattened."

But Forestry Tasmania said the group of blue gums in question had already been recognised three years ago and protected in a reserve.

Forestry's Giant Trees Consultative Committee secretary Graham Sargison said the two trees had been saved intentionally.

Mr Sargison said the group of trees was placed in a 15ha reserve because it was unusual to find blue gums at such high altitude.


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