Subscribe to recieve notifications of our newsletters and brochures

Google Groups
Subscribe to Veteran Tree Group
Visit this group

Nominate your special tree


Monday, December 28, 2009

Queensland Heritage Council request for submissions to the Heritage Register

The Queensland Heritage Council (QHC) are asking all Queenslanders to think about what local places should be included on the State Heritage Register. These potential heritage places includes trees...

Our shared heritage
(From the QHC website: )

As the state’s independent advisor on heritage matters, one of the Queensland Heritage Council’s main tasks is to ensure the Queensland heritage register truly tells this state’s story of development – for all Queenslanders.

To this end, we’ve been grateful for the efforts of the State Government’s statewide heritage survey which has identified more than 200 places so far that are worthy of state heritage listing.

But we fear time will beat us: that’s why the Heritage Council is seeking Queenslanders’ input. We are asking you to get involved by offering suggestions of local places that you consider worthy of state-heritage listing.

Together, let’s ensure the Queensland heritage register captures iconic Queensland places of all descriptions.

What’s wanted:

Name a place in Queensland that is not yet heritage-listed but which you believe should be by emailing your suggestions to the Queensland Heritage Council on before 26 January 2010.

The place you nominate must fit at least one of the following criteria:

Rare, uncommon or endangered

Part of Queensland’s development

Able to tell us something new about our history

A great example of its type

Visually appealing

Creative or technically innovative

Special to a group for social, cultural or religious reasons

Linked to an outstanding Queenslander or Queensland group
The normal nomination forms required to complete a submission - which are quite comprehensive and lengthy - have been set aside during this period up to Jan 26th 2010, presumably to encourage more people to submit potential heritage places.

A simplified form for submitting Veteran Trees (and non tree places!) that represent heritage values in your local area can be found here (NB left clicking this link will take you away from this page):    Historic places in your neighbourhood

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Veteran Fig Tree at Condong

Coming back from a trip to the Channon markets and Whian Whian State Conservation Reserve Whian-Whian SCA and Minyon falls I met (for about the fourth of fifth time) this lovely Veteran Tree a white fig ~ Ficus virens var virens just east of the Condon sugar mill.

When you look at the immediate area on Google Earth it seems a large tree is to be found south of the mill, and there is a braod spreading tree there...but it is not our Veteran, which due to the proximity of the Tweed Valley way has experienced dramatic canopy reductions over the years.

But enough of the Google Earth pics....

View along the Tweed Valley Way looking north,

View from the northwest of the tree looking south,

Very typical and beautiful liquid like flow manifest in the buttress roots of the tree,

Now a good friend of mine Ted Green admonished me for being too eager to climb into every bloomin tree I come across, and Ted is right that our enthusiasm to get close and personal with Veterans and Ancients has to be tempered by respect....but in my defence accomodating Angie was pleading for me to rest in her limbs...

I cannot honestly remember finding a fig with such a large bowl in its centre...althoug it looks like I am standing on the ground I am actually about 2.5m up in the Angie's centre.

Angie is already on the Tweed Valley Council's register of significant trees, and they have erected a coral of small timber bollards around her which is grand...

hopefully they might install some mulch more to avoid the incessant mower injuries than anything else...but of course the mulch would over time improve the soil and root environment which would I believe be a good thing.

The amazing cathedral like canopy is all the more impressive when you realise how much has been removed over the years....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cleveland Heritage Pines

As noted in the post Photographic records help to age trees in the southeast corner of Queensland Norfolk Island Pines have often been planted as part of the emerging character of our developing towns, and carried on into the early 20th century municipal landscape design.

This is the case all along the Gold Coast from Currumbin up to Jacobs Well, it is also the case in Cleveland on Moreton Bay, where two pines in particular stand out as significant historical landmarks. They are located at 127 Shore Street North and are believed to have been planted around the early 1860s by Brisbane Valley squatter Francis Edward Bigge, an enthusiastic promoter of Cleveland as a port town rival to the emerging dominance of Brisbane.

I was not able to take a photograph from the water, but these two trees apparently still have a useful role as aids to navigation for small boats approaching Cleveland.

The bifurcation in one of the trees is interesting such structural 'defects' are often focussed on by persons carrying out inspections and assessments of trees, clearly for this tree in its very very exposed site this 'defect' has not led to major failures under wind loading, despite being up there in the stem architecture for a very long time.

Sketch of Cleveland 1892

The two trees are part of a small community of trees including a number of figs of varying ages, the Pines are listed on the Queensland Heritage Register Place ID 602181..they have (thus far) survived the process of urban development around them, and have changed very little in the last 100yrs, rather like many people the most noticable change in the appearance of the trees is the thinning of the canopy on top!

 View from the Cleveland Hotel 1906

Two pines and their neighbouring figs 2009

Excellent details regarding the recorded history of these two trees and the development of the local area can be found within the entry on the Qld Heritage Register; Cleveland Pines (left clicking this link will take you away from this page) There is also more detail regarding a recent trip to the Bay Islands on the Wandering Arborist Blog Cleveland and the Bay Islands (again left clicking this link will take you away from this page)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Growing Conditions the Key to Understanding Veteran Tree Growth Rates

As if to prove the degreee of individual site specificity that we need to apply to our considerations when estimating tree age, a recent trip to Grafton highlights the dramatic difference in  growth rates in different conditions.

Located right on the bank of the Clarence River is a magnificent Fig Tree Avenue (Breimba Street, Grafton).

Each of these trees appear to be much bigger than  the fig tree at Southport in the last post...

Yet despite the dramatic difference in size and growth that these Ficus microcrapa 'hillii' demonstrate...they were in fact planted at exactly the same time as the Southport Bathing Pavillion Ficus benjamina, the explaination for any difference lies in the different growing conditions.

Being able to determine the age of specific veteran tree specimens accurately helps us to recognise just how detailed we need to be in our assessment of the history of growing conditions for a tree when the planting date is unknown.

Being 10-30yrs out is not a big issue and we shold always acknowledge the possible range inherent in our estimates, but being out by 80-100yrs could be a problem when we are framing a strong arguement to retain a tree based in part on its relationship to our own histories.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Using known planting dates to callibrate Veteran Tree age assessments

As previously mentioned our photographic history can be a fantastic resource, often in family portrait shots there will be a house and garden in the background, many times broad landscape shots highlight large significant trees of the period when the picture was taken. Even though it is somewhat unusual to have an actual tree planting picture it does sometimes happen as seen in the missing trees shot at Burliegh, and the Southport Bathing Pavillion shot below:

Now since we know the photo was taken in 1938 we can have an accurate estimate for the tree's age....looks like a 5yr sapling so allow +/- 5yrs then approx 80 yr old Ficus benjamina:

Now just how such a young tree could, or should fit into the concept of Veteran trees....well to be honest of course it is not a 'Veteran Tree', it is however a historically significant tree for the Gold Coast region, and understandably so when you view the other trees along Marine Parade (The Gold Coast Highway).

One of the less obvious consequences of looking at trees with a view to longer time frames, to how they connect with our own past, our own that you begin to find living connections with that past in unexpected locations.

For Veteran Tree hunters having the knowledge that this sized Ficus benjamina is 80yrs old gives you a useful benchmark for other similar species growing in similar locations, yes there will be a degree of variability even along our part of the coast... but if you found, say a Hill's fig in the hind dune area twice as big (with respects to Diameter at Breast Height DBH) you could be relatively confident that it would be around 120-150yrs old.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Photographic records help to age Veteran Trees

One of the biggest advantages we have in Australia when it comes to determining the age and role of many of our siginificant urban trees is that the history of white settlement is so recent, there are some amazing photographic records of the late 1800's and early 1900's that provide insights not only into the presence and size of some trees but help us to place those trees in a historical describe why these trees might have been important.

Local libraries certainly can have surprising collections of books, newspapers and journals all potentially touching indirectly on the topic of large significant vegetation.

A really great collection of photographs are to be found in the National Library of Australia:

I have found some incredible records that have helped gain rapid recognition of historical and cultural significance for trees, a process that might otherwise have been prolonged and protracted. Sometimes the results from a search can be just as surprising for me as anyone else, the pictures are little snap shots in time often revealing brief moments in the lives of the people within them....such pictures always leave me with the wish to know more about the subject matter.

This picture sows empty tree guards in 1934 along the shore at Burleigh after trees planted by the Justins brothers had been removed. They planted 100 Norfolk Pines ~ Araucaria heterophylla, on a Saturday and on the Sunday when they went to attend them 60 trees had been removed. It was first reported that vandals had removed them but in later years information that came to light seemed to indicate that the Shire Council had them removed.

The trees had been purchased from the State Nursery in Sydney and were landed in Byron Bay by steamer, the Norco Butter Co transported them to Burleigh Heads free of charge. The trees cost 1 shilling and threepence each (13 cents). Eventually the trees were replanted by the Justins family and are still standing today around what is known as Justins Park.The Heart of Paradise - The History of Burleigh Heads by Robert Longhurst p 68 Justins - Sherborne to Australia p62

Now having the date of the plantings enables a pretty accurate age to be given to the Norfolk Island pines at Burleigh, it is also a reminder of the importance of highly motivated individuals and government bodies, a great deal of the significant landscapes along the east coast (including the Gold Coast) are the result of determined planning.

These pines are deemed iconic and rightfully so, it is also clear from other photos that some of the trees were planted before 1934...the picture below taken in the 1930's clearly shows a line of well established pines along the edge of the main road against the beach.

Another view from the same era (1940's) looking back towards the bowls club from the beach:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Inspiration from the UK

Earlier posts began presenting a definition for 'veteran trees' the following video from the Woodland Trust provides both additional examples of veteran characteristics to look out for, but more importantly the images of the Ancient Oak tree are inspirational to me...

Now we have some magnificent veteran trees that are well on the way to developing the type of grandeur displayed by that ancient oak........

It can take 400yrs to reach the status of ancient,

and less than 30 mins to be completely destroyed....once you know how to manage veteran trees...

 it takes less than 5 minutes to preserve such unique trees deciding from a range of management options which ones best fit the specific situation for any individual tree.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Finding Veteran Trees from your armchair….

Google Earth is a quite amazing tool, it has been used by researchers to identify regions of the world worth closer investigation on the ground leading to some truly remarkable discoveries

Well it is no different when it comes to finding likely canopy shapes for some species of veteran trees that with age develop very large spreading canopy forms…figs in particular.

Here is a Google shot of a tree that really does stand out dramatically, not least because of the open paddock it is in….

Now it is not clear from this view if this is one tree or two or shadows or something else...a closer look

We can now see that it seems to be a single tree, but this shot also lets us compare its canopy to other trees nearby and the width of the roadway. 

Now clearly this process is really only useful if you are wanting to find trees with big canopies, and trees that are relatively isolated from other adjacent is in other words somewhat limited in its usefulness...however it has enabled me to find some quite remarkable figs in the Gold Coast Hinterland.

What does the tree in the Google actually look like?  Well it will be the subject of quite a few posts but here is a teaser of her magnificence...

Friday, October 9, 2009

You might pass a veteran tree everyday

Here is a veteran tree that a great many of us, thousands in fact pass everyday

This Silky oak - Grevillea robusta is a good representative of the the creek line (riparian) species that would have been very common in this region of the Gold Coast. There are only a small number of Silky oaks of this age and size remaining amidst the increasing spread of urban development.

The resiliance of this tree is incredible, in the face of major health impacts, roads on both sides inside the dripline of what is a fairly narrow canopy. The Nerang - Broadbeach road (dual carriageway) is constructed on a steep embankment (to satisfy Q100 requirements probably)....there is 2m of highly compacted roadbase over approx 40% of the rootplate of this tree!

As if that were not enough there is another smaller road on the other side of the tree stem, constructed almost at grade....which basically means a very large volume of soil and root mass would have been excavated and replaced with compacted road base.

This tree is an incredible survivor!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Whatever you call them why do they matter?

Veteran trees are special in many different ways, sometimes it is their size or shape that makes them stand out so very clearly from other trees around them.

Some trees were important markers for the people living in that area, or region....Veteran trees that predate white settlement are probably very rare indeed, just how many pre-settlement trees remain is unknown, and one of the important tasks ahead of us is to begin the process of collecting information on just what is out there.

Given the level of urban development that has occurred throughout the coastal fringe along the eastern seaboard of Australia it is amazing that any remnant vegetation remains at all let alone any that actuallly have attained an age to justify holding the label veteran.

Aborigonal Australians rightfully lay claim to a special attachment and link to the land, to country.

It is however also very true that a great many of the people who have travelled across the globe to live here in Australia have also forged a real and tangible link to this land.

Trees have from an early stage played an important role in the creation of place for all of us, whether they have by a mix of chance and design been retained in the transforming landscape, or whether they have been deliberately planted for fodder, shelter, fuel and the same combination of numerous benefits that they still provide to us today....

The orignal homesteads may have long since decayed and crumbled, or more likely been swept aside before the pressures of urban expansion....but some of these sentinels remain defiant reminders of what and who went before.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What is a Veteran Tree, why not call them Ancient trees?

The following general descriptions come from the Ancient Tree Forum The Ancient Tree Forum

There is no precise definition of either an Ancient or Veteran tree, however it is generally accepted that an Ancient Trees are:
  • Trees that are of interest biologically, aesthetically or culturally because of their age 
  • Trees in the ancient stage of their lives (based on the limits of knowledge we might have for both any tree's age and the expected life span of that particular species)
  • Trees that are old relative to others of the same species
A Veteran tree has a slightly broader definition, but the distinction is really quite subjective and the terms are often interchangeable.

A veteran tree can be defined as "a tree that is of interest biologically, culturally and aesthetically because of its age, size or condition"

A veteran tree is a survivor that has developed some of the features found on an ancient tree, not necessarily as a consequence of time, but of its life or environment.

Some trees are instantly recognisable as veterans but others are less obvious.

Some trees experience events around them that in effect 'veteranise' them, fire and storms in Australia are often just such events.

Veteran trees do not have to be the biggest trees in the area, indeed it is often the case that as trees move further into the last third of their life span that they begin the process of canopy retrenchment...again something that can be accelerated by external factors.

Ancient veterans are ancient trees, not all veterans are old enough to be ancient. A veteran may be a young tree with a relatively small girth in contrast to an ancient tree, but bearing the ‘scars’ of age such as decay in the trunk, branches or roots, fungal fruiting bodies, or dead wood.