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Old-growth loss fuels call to save ‘next generation’ of native forests

Victoria’s old-growth forests have been so extensively disturbed by bushfires that scientists are urging the state government to protect the “next generation” of younger forests, and even individual trees, to conserve these dwindling ecosystems.

About 80 per cent of Victoria’s old growth forests and woodlands have been disturbed by fire and – to far lesser extent – logging in the past 25 years, including during last summer’s catastrophic bushfires, according to a new study from prominent Australian ecologist Professor David Lindenmayer.

Old-growth forest in East Gippsland.

Old-growth forest in East Gippsland.

Although disturbance is a critical part of a forest’s life cycle, it is the scale and increased frequency of fires that warrants concern, says Professor Lindenmayer, who will publish the peer-reviewed study with co-author Dr Chris Taylor in Pacific Conservation Biology, a CSIRO publication.

“We know the amount of fire in the landscape is now way higher than it has ever been and we know the number of times the system is being burnt is more than it should be,” says Professor Lindenmayer.

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