TREAT Newsletter Storm Season October - December 2007


Barb Lanskey

Attendance was down (only 32) at the AGM on 14th September, but the new location and time of the Stan Moses Hall in Atherton in September was much more comfortable.

Ken Schaffer presented the year's finances in print and on screen, giving comparisons with the previous year's figures, and showing where our general expenditure was increasing. Peter Snodgrass gave a Power Point presentation for the QPWS nursery and noted statistics with interesting pictures. Volunteers worked a total of 3375 hours at the nursery and 23,660 trees were supplied for projects, to members and for National Parks' restoration work. I presented the president's report verbally and in print and particularly noted the various aspects of community education.

Jim Bourner was presented with life membership for his dedication over the last 15 years. Jim has been turning up at 7am on Friday mornings for the last 11 years to make up the potting mix.

All committee positions were declared vacant for the coming year. Geoff Errey didn't seek re-election but the remaining committee members were re-elected. Shirley Prout was elected as a new member and one position still remains vacant. Colin Hunt has replaced Geoff as vice president.

Ken accepted the position of treasurer in a temporary capacity as he and Dawn are heading overseas next April for several months. He drew attention to the need for volunteers to understudy committee positions to be able to fill such gaps and give continuity to management. Please talk to any of the committee if you can assist in this.

A General Meeting followed the AGM meeting. Ken explained that we were not covering our administrative costs without substantial assistance from funded projects and it was decided to raise the membership fee from $10 to $15 per year.

David Johnson was our guest speaker and spoke about "Climate Change - Facts and Implications" . He presented lots of graphical information covering the last 400,000 years in relation to carbon dioxide and methane levels, noting the present levels were a massive recent increase and that our society was going to have to take action to be able to live with the effects. David is always an interesting speaker and he kept our attention with a difficult subject.

A very friendly supper concluded the evening.

TREAT Management Committee for 2007/2008:

Inside this issue

Converting Stands of Camphor Laurel to Rainforest

Green Corridor

Joan & James Wright

25th Anniversary Open Day

Tree ID and Seed Propagation Workshop

Tree Awareness Programme

Nursery News

Fruit Collection Diary

This newsletter is kindly sponsored by Biotropica Australia Pty Ltd.»


Members are advised that the membership fee has been increased to $15 per year. See Report on AGM.


Date and Time Event Location
Sat 1st December 8am Fertilising Peterson Creek
Sat 8th December 7.30amTree planting 3,000 trees Barron River - Bonadio's
Fri 21st December 10amChristmas break-upHeld at nursery

The Barron River planting forms part of BRICMA'S Green Corridor project and TREAT is assisting with planting and providing a barbeque afterwards.

NOTE: Plantings are not hard work - the holes are already dug. Bring a trowel if you have one and a hat, gloves, sunscreen and water. For any further details contact Barbara Lanskey ph 4091 4468.

Converting stands of camphor laurel to rainforest:

A survey of different management approaches adopted in subtropical Australia

Authors: John Kanowski and Carla Catterall
Centre for Innovative Conservation Strategies, School of Environment, Griffith University, Nathan Qld 4111 Australia

Regrowth dominated by the exotic tree, camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora), is estimated to cover over 70,000 ha in former rainforest landscapes in northern NSW and south-east Queensland (Scanlon et al. 2000). This extensive weedy regrowth developed in response to changes in land use in the mid-20th century, notably the decline of the dairy and banana industries in the region, which meant that much agricultural land was abandoned or used at lower intensities; coinciding with changes in the behaviour of rainforest pigeons. In particular, topknot pigeons (Lopholaimus antarcticus) are thought to have switched to feeding on camphor laurel following the failure of the fruit crop of bangalow palms (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana) in the early 1950's (Frith 1977; Firth 1979). However, camphor laurel is now consumed by a wide range of frugivorous birds (and flying foxes) in subtropical Australia (Neilan et al. 2006), and is in fact credited with 'rescuing' some of the declining fruit pigeons, by providing an abundant, reliable winter food source (Date et al. 1996). Most stands of camphor laurel support a range of rainforest trees, shrubs and vines in their understorey, dispersed by birds and bats attracted to eat camphor fruit crop (Neilan et al. 2006).

There is widespread interest in replacing some of the extensive stands of camphor laurel with rainforest, particularly on steep slopes, along creeks, in wildlife corridors and near remnants. There are three main options for replacing camphor stands with rainforest:

  1. clearing and replanting with rainforest trees (a proven method, but expensive: $30,000 - 50,000 per ha, and may not be suitable on steep slopes);
  2. doing nothing, and waiting for rainforest plants to eventually dominate the site (cheap, but may take hundreds of years, if it works at all); and
  3. 'camphor conversion': i.e., strategically killing camphor trees and other weeds to promote the growth and regeneration of rainforest plants.

'Camphor conversion' is a relatively new approach to reforestation, which has been trialled at a number of sites in subtropical Australia over the last decade. It takes advantage of the regeneration of rainforest plants under stands of camphor laurel, is often cheaper than replanting (cost estimates range from $5 - 30,000 per ha, depending on the 'weediness' of the site), and can be used on steep or riparian sites.

Staged removal of camphor, 1 year after commencement of treatment, near Alstonville, northern NSW

Staged removal of camphor, 1 year after commencement of treatment

There are two main conversion methods used by practitioners: staged and patch removal (Woodford 2000; Lymburner et al. 2006). In staged removal, a proportion of the mature camphor trees at a site (e.g. 1 in 3) are killed at a time, with months to years between stages. In patch removal, all camphor trees are killed at once, in patches 0.5 - 1 ha in size. Both approaches require the control of understorey weeds during primary treatment and for one to five years following treatment, depending on the amount of regeneration, and then subsequent maintenance weed control. In both approaches, practitioners use standard techniques to kill camphor laurel trees and other weeds at treated sites (typically, the stems of mature camphors are injected with glyphosate: see Scanlon et al. 2000 and Big Scrub Landcare Group 2005 for details of techniques).

Amongst practitioners, there has been some debate as to the relative advantages of the two methods of camphor conversion. Proponents of the 'staged' removal method argue that it maintains a shaded and structurally complex habitat during treatment, minimises the risk that sites will revert to weed-dominated regrowth if treatment is interrupted in the early stages, and reduces the risk of erosion on steep or riparian sites. However, staged removal can be relatively slow, because of the time taken to complete primary weed control, and because the method may not strongly stimulate the recruitment of rainforest pioneers, or release rainforest plants from competition, during the early stages of treatment.

On the other hand, proponents of patch removal argue that it promotes the vigorous regeneration of rainforest pioneers from the seed bank, stimulates the growth of mature phase plants by removing competition from camphor trees, and is potentially a rapid, large-scale conversion method. However, patch removal can create a structurally-simple and "bare" habitat for one to three years on treated sites, and may require longer-term weed control at sites where the regeneration of rainforest plants is limited.

Regrowth dominated by camphor laurel, Big Scrub region, northern NSW. Although these regrowth patches look like 'wall-to-wall' camphor, they typically support a number of rainforest pioneers/ early successional species in the canopy (particularly Alphitonia excelsa, Guioa semiglauca, Acacia melanoxylon), and a range of late secondary and mature phase species in the shaded understorey.

Regrowth dominated by camphor laurel, Big Scrub region, northern NSW

Recently, researchers from Griffith University interviewed practitioners and surveyed treated camphor sites to obtain information on the costs and outcomes of the two treatment methods. These included eight 'staged' removal sites and 11 'patch' removal sites, all of which had supported subtropical rainforest prior to clearing, and 20 - 40 year old regrowth dominated by camphor laurel at the time of treatment. Some of the properties were located close to remnant rainforest, while others were more isolated, but this did not differ systematically between the two removal methods (this is important because proximity to remnant forests may influence the dispersal of rainforest plants and hence the amount of regeneration at treated sites). To evaluate outcomes on treated sites, surveys were also conducted in untreated stands of camphor laurel and remnant rainforest. All sites were located in the former 'Big Scrub' region of northern NSW.

Patch removal of camphor, 3 years after treatment, near Fernleigh, northern NSW

Patch removal of camphor, 3 years after treatment

At each site, tree and shrub species and vegetation structure were surveyed on one or two 50 x 10 m transects, using the 'monitoring toolkit' developed for assessing reforested sites (Kanowski and Catterall 2007). The results of this study form the basis of a fact sheet, soon to be available from the website of the Centre for Innovative Conservation Strategies, Griffith University ( . Briefly, surveys of treated camphor sites found that staged removal tends to maintain a more rainforest-like vegetation structure at treated sites during the first few years of treatment. However, after about 4 - 6 years, both staged and patch removal tend to follow the same trajectory towards rainforest conditions, and have similar outcomes in terms of (i) the number of rainforest trees (including late successional species) regenerating at a site, and (ii) the vegetation structure of treated sites.

In conclusion:

Patch removal of camphor, 7 years (left) and 12 years (right) after treatment, Rocky Ck dam, northern NSW. Common regenerating species include early successional species such as Alphitonia excelsa, Guioa semiglauca, Mallotus philippensis, M. discolor, Pittosporum undulatum and Commersonia bartramia; and various mid to late succesional species, including Dysoxylum mollisimum and D. rufum, Cryptocarya obovata, C. glaucescens and C. triplinervis, Archontophoenix cunninghamiana (particularly at sites close to remnants), D. fraserianum and Toona australis (where parent trees are nearby).

Patch removal of camphor, 7 years after treatment Patch removal of camphor, 12 years after treatment

Relevance to north Queensland:

Camphor laurel is a much more obvious part of the landscape in subtropical Australia than in the Wet Tropics. Nevertheless, camphor laurel has been widely planted across the Atherton Tableland, is present in regrowth, and is a volunteer recruit to many rainforest plantings (Wardell-Johnson et al. 2005). With recent changes in land-use, it is possible that camphor laurel may become increasingly abundant in regrowth on the Tablelands. If camphor laurel becomes a dominant component of regrowth in the region, the control methods developed by subtropical restoration practitioners may find useful application in the north.


Preparation of this fact sheet has been funded by the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority (NRCMA) and Griffith University. Thanks to the restoration practitioners and landholders who provided sites and/ or information for this project, including Ralph Woodford, Rosie Tongmar, Steve and Cherie Nash, Stephanie Lymeburner, Charlie and Jenny Handley, Tim Roberts, Rosemary Joseph and colleagues, and to participants in a workshop on 'Rainforest Restoration and Camphor Control' (Byron Council, June 2006) Stephen McKenna (Griffith University) kindly provided his survey data on the floristic composition of camphor stands and subtropical rainforests.


Big Scrub Rainforest Landcare Group. 2005. Subtropical Rainforest Restoration: A Practical Manual and Data Source for Landcare Groups, Land Managers and Rainforest Regenerators. 2nd Edition. Big Scrub Rainforest Landcare Group, Bangalow NSW.

Date, E.M., Recher, H.F., Ford, H.A. and Stewart, D.A. 1996. The conservation and ecology of rainforest pigeons in northeastern New South Wales. Pacific Conservation Biology 2, 299-308.

Frith, H.J. 1977. The destruction of the Big Scrub, in Goldstein, M. (ed.), Rain Forests. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney, pp. 7-12.

Kanowski, J. and Catterall, C.P. 2007. Monitoring Revegetation Projects for Biodiversity in Rainforest Landscapes. Toolkit version 1, revision 1. available online at:

Lymburner, S., Handley, C. and Handley, J. 2006. Rainforest rehabilitation on a productive Macadamia property: The Brockley story. Ecological Management and Restoration 7:184-196.

Neilan, W., Catterall, C.P., Kanowski, J. and McKenna, S. 2006. Do frugivorous birds assist rainforest succession in weed dominated oldfield regrowth of subtropical Australia? Biological Conservation 129, 393-407 (see also: Neilan, W., Catterall, C.P. and Kanowski, J. (2005) A New Role for Weeds in Rainforest Restoration? Rainforest CRC Issues in Tropical Forest Landscapes Series, No. 4. Available online at:, for a summary of the issues presented in the Biol. Cons. paper).

Scanlon, T., and the Camphor Laurel Taskforce, 2000. Camphor Laurel Kit. North Coast Weed Advisory Committee.

Wardell-Johnson, G.W., Kanowski, J., Catterall, C.P., McKenna, S., Piper, S. and Lamb, D. 2005. Rainforest timber plantations and the restoration of plant biodiversity in tropical and subtropical Australia, in: Erskine, P., Lamb, D., Bristow, M. (eds.), Reforestation in the Tropics and Subtropics of Australia using Rainforest Tree Species. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra and Rainforest Cooperative Research Centre, Cairns, pp. 162-182.

Woodford, R. 2000. Converting a dairy farm back to rainforest: the Rocky Creek Dam Story. Ecological Management and Restoration 1: 83-92 (for a summary of Ralph Woodford's approach, see also the Newsletter of the Big Scrub Rainforest Landcare Group, November 2006. available online at:

Green Corridor

Geoff Onus

The Green Corridor project operates over 140km of the Barron River and activities are divided into three zones; Upper (Crater to Tinaroo falls), Central (Tinaroo falls to Barron falls) and Lower (Barron falls to Redden [Dungarra] Island). This project aims to plant all year round because condensing planting to only the wet season can be problematic.

The frost damage at the Jim Chapman bridge site (Mabi flats, upper zone) on the Yungaburra - Atherton road was a wake-up call for risks associated with revegetation activities.

Approximately 15% of our 13,000 stems are dead, and 90% were trees less than 800mm in height. Given this fact, the 'highly visible site' near the bridge only suffered 5% loss where most plants were greater than 1000mm in height (this is the 2006 Tropical Tree Day site). All of our revegetation activities are faced with inherent risks such as; frosts (upper zone), floods (all zones), drought (all zones), predation (in particular lower zone) and weeds (all zones).

The costs incurred to address losses are better spent during implementation to lessen potential loss (excluding extreme events, where project contingency considerations should be included).

Measures the Green Corridor team are using to manage the risks are as follows;






A few achievements from our first year of operation

Tropical Tree Day this year is December 8th (Saturday) and we are holding a community planting on the Mabi flats at the Jim Chapman bridge on the Atherton - Yungaburra Rd. We will be planting the lower corn paddock (north side of road) on Bonadio's.

Joan & James Wright

Joan and James are now residing in Ozcare Malanda. Joan had a fall earlier in the year which rather curtailed her activities and they took advantage of a vacancy at Ozcare. Joan turned 89 on 14th September, the date of the AGM. This was the first AGM they were unable to attend, which means they've attended continuously for 24 years! They are still very keen to hear about TREAT's activities and love having visitors.

25th Anniversary Open Day

Geoff Errey

Fantastic set-up, wonderful, inspirational, were just some of the comments from visitors to TREAT's 25th anniversary Open day held at the Rainforest Display Centre on 18 August. Over 200 people came to enjoy the display and nursery tours and to take advantage of the rainforest information available, and treasurer Ken Schaffer reported that 15 new members joined TREAT on the day.

Another frequently-heard remark was, "We've just bought a property here and we want to know what trees to plant. . ." President Barb Lanskey and member Alan Gillanders were kept busy throughout the day advising both new and longer-term residents on planning, planting and caring for their revegetation sites.

DPI's Biosecurity staff were in attendance, highlighting many of the problem weeds found in the Far North, and they too were fully occupied answering questions about Siam Weed, Salvinia and other pests. The number of visitors to their informative booth was an indication of the concern felt by landholders and reinforced the day's message about getting the right plants established.

Many people were impressed by the chance to be able to just sit and chat to TREAT volunteers about their experiences and to exchange information about what has worked for them. The TREAT booklet, Helpful Hints, was a popular seller at the sales booth, as was Nigel Tucker and Steve Goosem's book, Repairing the Rainforest.

It was great to see old acquaintances being renewed over a cuppa and cakes. Pioneers such as Joan Wright and Tony Irvine chatted with Peter Stanton who, with the late Geoff Tracey, instigated the close relationship between TREAT and QPWS.

The day had been promoted by an excellent advertising feature presented by the Tablelander newspaper. TREAT is grateful to Heidi, Linda and Darryl from the Tablelander and for the generous support of our sponsors for this feature: Alan's Wildlife Tours, Biotropica Australia, our local State MP Rosa Lee Long, Nick's Restaurant, QPWS, SPAR Supermarket Malanda, T-Hire, Tropical Peat and Yungaburra Primary School.

Our thanks also to all the volunteers from both TREAT and QPWS who helped out on the day with staffing the Display Centre, conducting nursery tours, making and serving the morning and afternoon teas, erecting (and dismantling) the three marquees and generally providing information and a friendly welcome to all the visitors. Our biggest thank-you of course goes to Dawn Schaffer who organised and co-ordinated this most successful event.


Barb Lanskey

Twenty-three people attended this year's annual workshop on 13th October and they were all very enthusiastic about how much they learnt during the morning. Alan Gillanders presented the tree identification section and Peter Snodgrass the seed propagation. Both presentations involved collection of material, Alan's being a large amount of foliage from different tree species and Peter's being rainforest fruit and seeds of various types.

As Alan explained in his introduction, the tree identification session was not about finding the 1200 different trees in the rainforest and learning to identify them by sight, but instead about learning to look at different features of leaves to identify trees. Besides showing what defines simple and compound leaves, Alan drew attention to their shape and to the arrangement of the leaves on stalks and then kept everyone busy using the hand lenses provided to examine if glands, oil dots, domatia and intramarginal veins were present. Even more had to be noted - stipules, pulvinus, exudate and smell. It was no wonder that some said they hadn't concentrated so much for years. The presence or absence of features gave clues as to which genus a tree belonged and everyone received notes on the various features and a correlation table of the features in 9 significant plant families in North Qld rainforests. With so much to identify and hand around, Alan enlisted the help of his wife Maria, always so keen and bright.

Peter explained that the nursery keeps phenology records of trees from which they collect fruit to know when to harvest it. In some cases this time can be a short window of opportunity, especially for winged seeds. Seeds are contained in various types of fruit and preparing them for sowing depends on the type of fruit. Some are enclosed in a hard shell, some in a fleshy covering, others in a leathery capsule and some are winged in a hard capsule. These and other types are described in the book "Repairing the Rainforest" by Dr Steve Goosem and Nigel Tucker and is available for sale ($10) at the nursery. Peter gave out notes on how to sow the various seeds, the sowing mix to use, when to pot up seedlings, the potting mix to use and the care of the young plants. Many questions were asked by those interested in collecting seeds to grow their own trees for a project. Collecting them from the local area means the trees will be best adapted to the local conditions.

TREAT provides a morning tea between the two sessions and I'm kept busy during the first session making sandwiches to go with cake and biscuits. Everyone needs refreshments and a break after the one and a half hours of concentration and it helps fuel us all for the second session. Helen brought lovely bananas to share which were also appreciated.

Many thanks to Peter, Alan and Maria for their time and efforts and I hope they'll be able to do it all again next year!

Tree Awareness Programme

Dawn Schaffer

Over the last few months we have enjoyed the company of students and staff from Malanda, Herberton and Millaa Millaa state schools and Loreto Normanhurst girls school from Sydney

Our Tree Awareness Program is very versatile. We catered for Year 3 students from Malanda, Years 6/7 students form Herberton who were studying fauna of the rainforest and Upper Primary students from Millaa Millaa who were basing their research on the Traditional Owners of their rainforest area.

The Millaa Millaa students followed their nursery visit with a tree planting in their school grounds. All students from Prep to Year 7 planted two trees each which were recorded on a site plan along with the student's name and the botanical name of the tree. The students will be measuring the growth of their trees, while senior students will be researching further botanical information on the species they planted. Thank you to Angela who helped with the planting and is continuing to assist the students with their research and maintenance. This is the first of many more plantings planned for Millaa Millaa school grounds.

Another 160students from Loreto Normanhurst visited in August as part of their Year 9 community awareness trip to North Queensland. Forty students a day visited over 4 days and thanks to the volunteers involoved. TREAT appreciates the donation made by the school to the Environmental Benefit Fund.

Thank you to all the teachers and support staff. We realise taking students on an excursion entails a lot of extra work and responsibility. We appreciate your assistance and enthusiasm in making the Tree Awareness Programme a success.

We will be offering all programmes again next year including Nursery Visit, Tree Planting and Flowing On.

Nursery News

Peter Snodgrass

Spring is upon us and has seen a lot of trees recovering well from the frost damage they received in winter. We estimate that there has been a 10% to 15% loss of trees through our 2006 - 2007 revegetation sites due to the frosts. However, the hot and dry conditions that we are experiencing may prove too stressful and even fatal for some revegetation coordinators in the southern tablelands district that will be completed and published in the next newsletter. This information will be available to all in plenty of trees that were starting to recover but have now died back again. Due to these factors we have been unable to complete an accurate overall report as promised, on the frost tolerant species and those which will recover fully from the frost damage they received. There is a combined effort taking place between QPWS and other time to implement strategies for the coming planting season. If people need information before that time feel free to contact us at the nursery or come and see us on a Friday morning during the TREAT working bee hours from 7am till noon.

The long period of wet conditions we experienced last year restricted maintenance in that period. The fine weather since has been extremely beneficial to the maintenance regime throughout the sites. TREAT has now taken on part of the maintenance role in the form of fertilising every three months. This will save on contract labour costs and enable funds to be channelled in other directions resulting in more trees in the ground. It was great to see people turn up on 22nd September to carry out this task which also enabled the volunteers to see first hand how the trees are performing. We received positive feedback from those who attended and invite people to join in on the next round of fertilising to be held on 1st December. Both the 2006 and 2007 sites are looking really good considering the conditions that they have been through.

Weedbuster Week saw enthusiastic volunteers turn up on 6th October at the Williams' property to carry out weed control in a remnant area that has been fenced off from cattle downstream from the 2007 planting site. It was great to assist this area in its recovery as, like so many other areas that were damaged during the cyclone, the canopy had been opened up significantly. The result of this disturbance saw the abundant natural recruitment striving to emerge. Unfortunately Wild Tobacco (Solanum mauritianum) also thrived and threatened to suppress native regeneration. This is a unique area which is predominantly swamp country, with trees such as bloodwoods in the midst of dry rainforest typical of the critically endangered ecosystem of the Curtain Fig National Park. Adjacent to Peterson Creek in this area we see both swamp and dry rainforest species occuring together. Again it was a great opportunity for volunteers to get a closer look at TREAT's Peterson Creek Corridor project.

I received some very positive feedback after the walk and talk through the nursery about quality control and nursery maintenance on 10th August. We hope to have a refresher on other activities in the nursery such as potting for the benefit of new members coming on Friday mornings. We all sincerely hope the new members are enjoying their involvement with TREAT. I would again like to thank everyone for their diligence in weeding, sizing and consolidating throughout the nursery. Things are looking really good as a result of these efforts. Once again, keep up the good work!!!

Fruit Collection Diary July - September 2007

Species Common Name Regional Ecosystem
Acronychia aberransAcid Berry7.8.2
Aleurites rockinghamensisCandlenut7.8.2
Archidendron ramiflorum   7.8.2, 7.8.4
Caldcluvia australienseRose Alder7.8.2
Callistemon viminalisDrooping Bottlebrush7.3.10
Castanospermum australeBlack Bean7.8.2, 7.3.10
Chionanthus ramifloraNorthern OliveCow Bay
Corymbia intermediaRed Bloodwood7.8.8
Cryptocarya onoprienkoanaRose Maple7.8.4
Daphnandra repandulaSassafras7.8.3
Elaeocarpus ruminatusBrown quandong7.8.2
Eucalyptus nigra  7.8.8
Eupomatia laurinaBolwarra7.3.10, 7.8.2
Ficus pleurocarpaBanana Fig7.8.2
Ficus racemosaCluster Fig7.3.10
Ficus virensBanyan, Green Fig7.8.3
Ficus virgataFigwood7.3.10
Harpullia pendulaTulipwood7.3.10
Helicia nortonianaNorton's Silky Oak7.8.3
Homalathus novo-guineensisNative Bleeding Heart7.8.3
Melicope bonwickiiYellow Evodia7.8.2
Melicope elleryanaEvodia7.3.10
Melicope xanthoxyloidesYellow Evodia7.3.10
Mischocarpus exangulatusRed Bell Mischocarp7.3.10
Mischocarpus lachnocarpusWooly Pear Fruit7.8.2
Niemeyara pruniferaPlum Boxwood7.8.1
Sauropus macranthusAtherton Sauropus7.8.3
Syzygium smithiiLillipilli Satinash7.8.2, 7.8.3
Zanthxylum ovalifoliumOval- leaf Yellowwood7.8.2

↑ Top of Page

More Newsletters