Our photos were taken yesterday at midday as the call was being made to 000. Passers-by had stopped when they saw smoke coming out of the hollows of this river giant. This follows the an unprecedented loss of mature trees to apparent arson attacks over recent months.
UPDATE, Friday 22 September, 12.55pm: A prompt phone call to 000 and effective action by the fire brigade looks to have saved this tree.
Alice Springs is facing massive losses of its River Red gums from fire. "What would our town be without its River Red gums?" asks Dr FIONA WALSH. There are things residents can do – to protect the trees in the first place and to help extinguish fires, including new smothering techniques for fires in hollow tree trunks.
Many Landcare groups around Australia focus on tree planting but in Alice Springs the chief concern of this small band of volunteers is tree protecting, by controlling weeds and preventing wildfires. Leading their David versus Goliath efforts has won a nomination to the National Landcare Awards for Tim Collins, chair of Alice Springs Landcare. He is one of 88 finalists.
Alice Springs Landcare came together because they could see the local landscape changing 'before our very eyes", says Mr Collins. You drive or walk around town and "you see the gaps", he says: where once there was a magnificent river red gum, now there's a blackened stump or an old giant lying there, shattered on the ground. And few young trees are growing to take their place.
The problem can be sheeted home to lack of adequate fire management and the rise of buffel grass which fuels wildfires, says Mr Collins. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Alice Springs Landcare chair Tim Collins removing slashed Buffel Grass in the Todd River as part of Green Corps training in 2011. Unemployed youth were trained in the use of machinery to create firebreaks, and the protection of trees from inadvertent damage. Photo by Tanya Howard.