As we 'speak' there are crews of trusties from the gaol in and along the Todd River, slashing the grasses around the base of mature trees. It seems that the message has gotten through that the community wants these trees protected from fire and urgent action is required. But there are other river management issues to consider.
"With trees you can talk of death by fire, but you can also talk of death by mowing."
The debate around protection of trees in the Todd from fire has expanded to broader river management issues. For instance, why, in the stretch of the Todd between Schwarz Crescent and Wills Terrace, does there appear to be practically no regermination of the river gums? On the eastern bank of the river the natural vegetation has been utterly transformed by the planting of exotic species, mowing and irrigating. The view across the river is all but unimpeded. There are a few surviving giants in the riverbed and nothing else. If they were to be destroyed by fire, would we have succeeded in sterilising the river?
The Alice Springs News Online asked Sunil Dhanji, former project officer for Greening Australia's Todd and Charles Rivers Biodiversity Project, what he thought might be going on.
Mowing is important for knocking down bulk fuel, he said, but the crew need to identify and avoid germinants (new growth). Doing this has to be built into the crew's work program; the crew needs to understand what they are doing and why. Getting this kind of management happening depends on having a vision of what you hope to preserve and promote in the landscape. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: A tamed river , utterly transformed by the planting of exotic species, mowing and irrigating. Are we rendering it sterile? This is the east bank of the Todd between Schwarz Crescent and Wills Terrace. Photo by MIKE GILLAM.