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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...


  1. If I remember correctly, this little beauty measures around 13 metres? in girth. And story has it that the owner would like to remove it in order to "improve the pasture"?! While the tree is currently afforded some protection under the local council planning scheme it is potentially at threat if and when the adjacent roadway and bridge are upgraded due to exemptions offered Local Government under the Integrated Planning Act for infrastructure works. We also know from experience that despite the best efforts of some diligent Council tree oficers and Environmental Planners to protect such trees through internal processes, the fact remains that trees, and vegetation in general, are more often left out of the council planning considerations until somebody makes very loud noises; unfortunately that is more often than not the noise of a chipper. It is time for us to begin extolling the beauty and value of our veteran trees and make their locations known before they are lost

  2. I agree entirely with your sentiments Jan, the first port of call for me would be the land owner and the local historical society. I don't know the local history of the land around the fig but I am fairly confident that in common with much of the valleys leading into the hinterland the significantly older trees that remain have survived because they were important to the occupants of that block of land.

    This beautiful fig is performing some critical tasks within the flood plane of the adjacent do not have to look very far to find glaring examples of the huge cost and often ineffective nature of our engineering attempts at flood and erosion mitigation.

    Road widening is a real threat to this tree, further up Guanaba Creek Road are a number of large residential developments they will put incresing pressure on the council to improve the road connection to the M1 at Nerang.

    Finding a means to have the tree flagged to council planners as a constraint in advance of any road improvements is another crucial task.

  3. You can, of course, do it the other way round too, by seeing the tree in.... er... person, so to speak... then finding it on google earth - though I guess you would only do this for the novelty value.

    Further, the panoramio program allows you to geo-reference photos on google earth. I particualry like that approach since it means that general google earth users will see the images and maybe, just maybe, think about the significance of the trees. For example, check out this fantastic vet in Gundagai.