Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Forestry Tasmania’s destruction of El Grande …

*Pic: A black border for the dead … named El Grande by the Wilderness Society

El Grande before the burn-off. Two people stood at the base to show the tree’s size …


In 2003 El Grande, possibly the largest living object on the planet, was destroyed by Forestry Tasmania as a result of an escaped regeneration burn.

Forestry Tasmania – with Thuggo Lennon as Minister for Forests – ran the Tasmanian logging world as its personal fiefdom. As a result no mention can be traced of this ecological disaster, a matter of world interest, in the columns of either the Examiner or the Mercury – such was their power to control the Tasmanian news cycle.

Some seven months later news of the disaster finally leaked out when the death of the giant Tasmanian tree made the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and finally the BBC in London. Interestingly was still not a squeak from the The Examiner or the Mercury.

With this triumph over the news cycle behind them Lennon and Gay were emboldened to go for a Pulp Mill.

Their mistake came from the Internet which resulted in a new player which could use the service to hold them to account – Tasmanian Times had been born.

I suggest that within 20 years of the death of El Grande those who saw fit to ignore this major news story, namely the Examiner and the Mercury, will also be no more.

They, like El Grande, will have vanished in a puff of smoke. People power through the Internet will regain its sway over our unqualified pollies who will do anything, and say anything, to keep a snout in the trough and who have infected our public Institutions.

El Grande will finally claim victory over the newsprint that caused her death.

The world’s loss will not have been in vain.

• El Grande …

El Grande (tree)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
El Grande was a massive Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus regnans) in Tasmania
and Australia’s largest tree. It was located on a ridge in the upper
Derwent valley, adjacent to the World Heritage Area of the Florentine
Valley, approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) from Hobart. The tree
stood 79 metres (259 ft) in height, had a girth of 19 metres (62 ft),
and a volume of 439 cubic metres. While it was not the tallest tree in
Australia, it was considered to be the largest in terms of volume,[1]
and the world’s biggest-stemmed flowering plant.[2]

Approximately 350 years old,[3] it was burned in April 2003, and
died in December 2003, as the result of catching fire in a burn-off of
the debris remaining after the clear-felling of old-growth forest in the
tree’s immediate vicinity.[4][5] Australian forestry officials admitted
responsibility for killing the tree.[1] Its hollow trunk acted like a
furnace so that it was cooked from the inside.[6]

The death of the tree, which had already been used as a symbol in the
Wilderness Society’s campaign against logging, brought national and
international media attention. The destruction of El Grande became a
symbol for the destruction of Tasmanian forests.[7] Scrutiny intensified
the use of Tasmania’s forests for wood chip exportation, and the
processes involved.[8]

In the later half of 2003, Forestry Tasmania decided to remove
individual names from the state’s giant trees, but later relented.[9]
Other giant trees in the area of El Grande which are also protected by
Forestry Tasmania’s Giant Trees Policy, have since been named Centurion,
which was discovered in 2008, and Triarius.[10] Trees in the
vicinity that had been named previously by the Wilderness Society
include the Chapel tree and Gandalf’s Staff.[11]

• What Forestry Tasmania says about the burning of El Grande …

http://www.forestrytas.com.au/uploads/File/pdf/forestry_matters_el_grande.pdf Biggest Tree Killed –

Andrew Darby in The Age … Australia’s largest tree is dead, killed by its Tasmanian Government custodians in a mistake likened to the Louvre destroying the Mona Lisa. In autumn El Grande, a massive Eucalyptus regnans, was engulfed in a regeneration burn after clear-felling of old growth forest. The state timber agency, Forestry Tasmania, which supervised the fire, held out hope that El Grande might respond in spring. Yesterday it said the tree had died …

*John Hawkins was born and educated in England. He has lived in Tasmania for 13 years. He is the author of “Australian Silver 1800–1900” and “Thomas Cole and Victorian Clockmaking” and “The Hawkins Zoomorphic Collection” as well as “The Al Tajir Collection of Silver and Gold” and nearly 100 articles on the Australian Decorative Arts. He is a Past President and Life Member of The Australian Art & Antique Dealers Association. John has lived in Australia for 50 years and is 75 this year. In two of the world’s longest endurance marathons and in the only teams to ever complete these two events, he drove his four-in-hand team from Melbourne to Sydney in 1985 and from Sydney to Brisbane in 1988.

YESTERDAY on Tasmanian Times …

‘Two Year reprieve for Threatened Forests’

• Mark Temby in Comments: #6, one of the puzzling things about our fine timbers exported for national and international demand was how Tasmania had more wood chips than all the other states for such a sustained period. As annual exports grew beyond $5 million tonnes Bacon and Lennon stopped access to the statistics. FOI laws were deliberately difficult as FT was a GBE and no longer the Forestry Commission. One year some clever Dickens went through the Ports Authority and gained the record figure around 6 million tonnes. Lennon quickly closed yet another loophole. I like Tasmanian fine furniture – particularly those chipboard cupboards that last about two years before they get dumped at the tip. Seriously, #6, don’t just type rhetorical nonsense for something to do with your mornings …

• John Hawkins in Comments: Libby Lester – in her thesis with references – notes the power of Tasmanian politicians over the Tasmanian press …

• Robert Middleton, USA, in comments: … The cover-up by FT and the media of the killing of El Grande was an evil, sinister betrayal of the people of Tasmania and all those throughout the world who understand the true importance of trees …

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Russell

    July 4, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Re #56
    If it was wet forest before it was logged, then it WAS meant to be naturally wet.

    Being replaced by exotic species plantations guarantees it will never be wet again while that regime exists. That’s why it burned so intensely to kill El Grande, isn’t it?

  2. Ted Mead

    July 4, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    #58 – The accuracy of many statements about FT’s internal operations will all come to light when the walls finally collapse in their cave, as it inevitably will.

    In the present we all know it is an over-resource operation that has working conditions well outside normal employment parameters.

    Just have a private personal discussion with one of them.

    I’m sure you rub shoulders with many there!!!!

  3. MJF

    July 3, 2017 at 11:16 pm


    I’ve had no luck with a search, I hope you can back your claim

    Nearly 3 x that of public levels ( 27%), I don’t think so.

    Now, about the exorbitant salaries and endless perks ….?

    Details pls. or you got no substance. Just like your export log

    yard rubbish you peddle.

  4. Ted Mead

    July 3, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    # 54 – It was quoted here on TT sometime ago that FT being a corporation were setting their own super level contributions.

    The amount was stated as almost 3 times that of public levels, so you can do the calculations on that, or search back to find that info imparted on TT.

  5. MJF

    July 3, 2017 at 3:19 pm


    Not supposed to be wer, would have been wet forest prior to logging. Regenerating forest will still be wet.

    Waiting for Mead to confirm super guarantee levels for STT staff. He seems to know all about it.

  6. Russell

    July 3, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Re #53
    Then the area where El Grande lived was supposed to be wet, and FT and its pathetic forest practices changed that drastically.

    Re #54
    Don’t public servants get 16% superannuation, while the private plebs get 9?

  7. Mjf

    July 3, 2017 at 3:24 am

    # 52 Mead

    Just wondering how much these exorbitant FT salaries are and what exactly are the Endless perks ?

    You claim to know a lot about the renumerations. Who exactly are the beneficiaries ? Any idea ? Numbers please.

    Superannuation would be at the legislated 9.5% or do you know different ?

  8. MjF

    July 3, 2017 at 2:44 am

    #50 Langfield

    The situation with E reg is that it’s a very fire susceptible species. While E regnans seed in the soil responds positively to a fire event and readily germinates, the reverse is true for existing trees which rapidly die if subjected to enough heat from a fire. In which case a new crop will then emerge and restart the cycle.

    Many other euc species are more fire tolerant but not E reg which is genetically engineered to exist in a wet environment with an infrequent fire history.

    Just in case Halton doesn’t respond accordingly which I’m sure he will, being an old tech forester and all ………..

  9. Ted Mead

    July 2, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    #49 – Robin

    Just because 69 known giants are on some sort of bureaucratic register doesn’t mean they are safe whilst the Forestry clearfell and burn myopic ‘world’s worst practice’ continues on.

    The death of El Grande may have given FT something to think about but essentially all they will do is provide a bigger buffer zone to them whilst continue to plunder everything else lower than 85 metres in height and 280 cubic metres in volume.

    Big iconic trees are important to preserve but if FT wants a fragment of credibility they should be accepting that tracts of large mature forests are more important to preserve as an ecological unit.

    FT’s attitude is like saying we will let the kings of the country live on and let all the peasants die for their ideology. That sounds like a good Liberal analogy you could put forward at the next Liberal state conference.

    Since the death of El Grande, FT has done is nothing more than PR polishing, and it doesn’t convince me, and most others.

    Quite frankly all those in the FT Ivory Tower are interested in is the exorbitant wages, super contributions and endless perks.

    Most of them at FT are so desperate to get to work each day to feather their own nests that they probably forget to put their underpants on each morning.

  10. max

    July 2, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    # 49 Robin
    Unfortunately the location of El Grande was on a ridge top or unfortunately the location of El Grande was in or near a coupe that had to be clear felled and fire bombed at a loss. FT created a loss for themselves and loss for posterity and they are still hell bent on self destruction or just plain vandalism.

  11. Russell

    July 2, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    Re #49
    I don’t understand your logic.

    If “El Grande” was a E Regnans, how come it didn’t survive (despite being how old and tall?) the very type of fire you say it needs to renegerate???

    As if there haven’t been similar fires over the last 400 years. The only difference with the one that killed El Grande being that non-Indigenous people have drastically changed that landscape with massive fire-bomb plantations which also create a drier ecology.

  12. Robin Charles Halton

    July 2, 2017 at 1:50 am

    #47, Phill, absolutely dignity and respect and protection for at least the 69 known giant trees.

    In addition, it would be interesting research by those familiar with the vegetation type and density mapping which should have been available since 1948/50 on the former ANM since Concession to identify with prime areas of E1+ a/b that have been harvested also by using remaining stump and head log dimensions assuming they have not rotted beyond recognition as the established regrowth after the burns may represent the future for the location of forest giants.

    Unfortunately the location of El Grande was on a ridge top, no matter how much hosing down and clearance alongside the edge of the coupe it was unlikely that the giant tree could be protected from the intense heat generated.

    It is essential for E regnans to have a very intense hot fire for regeneration as was the case with the original stands 350-400 years ago when a catastrophic fire event took place in and around the Styx Valley region which had resulted in these giant stands.

    I have no problem with future managed reserves of forest areas to cover the prime of the areas of rapid growth into ER5+ class regrowth.

    There is no reason why existing forest management cannot take responsibilty for maintaining these areas along with production areas nearby.

  13. Russell

    July 1, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Re #44
    The Maningrida book is “Balanda” by Mary Ellen Jordan. But even she doesn’t quite make the link between alcohol and ALL the community problems, or end up with any intimate community relationship. Public Servants stay only as long as it takes to get their money (even though some feel a little guilty about it), then move on. Things are much worse in Maningrida now with the people so bored and hamstrung by whitey meddling that the kids resort to suicide and petrol sniffing to find escape.

    The two main factors in the Top End’s fire regime which you never mentioned are the change in lanscape with the introduction of exotic highly flammable weeds, and the fact that Darwin and the surrounding Top End is one of the most lightning-struck places on the planet.

    My workmate “Cranky”, who didn’t suffer fools either, used to get the readings from the lightning monitoring equipment on top of the TIO building. Can’t remember if it was a weekly or monthly check but from a single lightning rod on a single building smack in the middle of Darwin there were over 40,000 hits in one period.

  14. philll Parsons

    June 30, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    #27 makes broad claims.

    The ash bed theory works just fine if you want a eucalypt forest and is why it is used to prepare seed beds to the exclusion of other species. It is not essential.

    The end of native forest logging is not the goal of all environmentalists although it would seem to be the pet project of Guy Barnett as he wishes to return to the hating of guts period of previous iterations of so called forest management when politics ruled over practice.

    The overs in this were not ‘maturity’ they were over allocation driven by greed.

    I am sure RCH, as a human, understand dignity. Living things because they are living have an intrinsic dignity, they are not simply instruments.

    At one time age appeared to add additional dignity and respect, now we are assessed by our worth. What a sad place it has become.

    I must declare an interest in that idea as I am older

  15. philll Parsons

    June 30, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    #6 seems to forget that if you have 6 pieces of something that are the last 6 pieces and you take 3 of them away that the remaining 3 then become the last.

    Until they are all gone you will have the last remaining HCV forest.

    There’s noting wrong with solid or even laminated wood product it just when you allocate more fores than you have for the production of low value product that you end up in mess with insufficient forest to provide natural services and meet conservation goals under national and international obligations as well as the demand for wood.

    And now we have the additional important function for forests, Carbon sequestration.

    Wearing a blue blindfold may hide reality from the wearer but the balance of the population are not so constrained.

  16. Russell

    June 30, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Re #44
    It certainly looked directed at me.

    Anyone who really has lived within Indigenous communities would/should know better about their traditional practices, unless they were never part of them. It would be easy to check if someone had lived in a Community. Which one/s did you say you were in?

    Most people in Government Departments ‘assisting’ Indigenous people are only on the ‘Aboriginal Affairs’ gravy train to get what they can out of it and stay within their little groups having very little actual daily contact with the people. All the money supposed to be going to Indigenous communities was/is soaked up by an endless conga-line of reports and consultants.

    There’s a good book of one woman’s experience at Maningrida where the white population is largely separate to the Indigenous groups despite living in the township and regard themselves largely as carers in their little kingdom and the only reason anything why gets done there. I’ll try to find its title and author and post it later.

    Not much was allowed to be controlled by the community, let alone have much input. Alcohol is a real problem in Maningrida now (a previously dry community, like most others in Arnhem Land), just because the white population insisted on having their own fortnightly barge supplies so they forced their rules on the community – a bit like making your younger brother smoke a cigarette so that he can’t tell on you to mum or dad.

    This was my experience as well, except for the alcohol (none was allowed at Bernung). ATSIC and Government bureaucrats just sucked up all the money in meetings and consultancies, and the people ended up with nothing but their bare land which took years to get back a portion of. I was happy to see ATSIC disappear. I have no respect for most Government employees because they are not unlike politicians, in for the big grab at the purse and a free ride.

  17. John Wade

    June 30, 2017 at 11:49 am

    41 – And I deeply resent your unwarranted insult of “… bullshit from creationists who have a stake in fantasy stories of certain individuals and groups.”
    – This was not directed at you but the many anthropologists and degree graduates that manipulate truth for self purpose.

    “I and many others have personal experience. You obviously have nothing but pub talk and information derived from fat-arsed desk-jockey wankers who also advise governments that clean coal is better than renewables and will save us from climate change.”
    – Now you are getting dirty and lost my respect and demolished any dialogue. Fact is I spent many years in government positions in the health and housing departments and in geology, living in communities, being a link to help understanding and assist in improvements and employing indigenous in programs of self-help.
    Many years Russell, so you are on the wrong horse, on the wrong track. Finished!

  18. Russell

    June 29, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Re #42
    Stating fact is not a “brag”. Living “with” people and experiencing their custom as it happens is not “bragging”.

    I would rather believe people who live/lived within a community than those who sat in Government offices doling out report after report to justify their false existence, usually to achieve some aim the Government had instructed them to. And I would believe the Traditional Land Owners on the ground above any glorified you-beaut satellite imagery in Government-sponsored desk-jockey reports.

    Since invasion the environment has been rubbished in just over 200 years. When the invaders arrived it was “a Gentleman’s Park”.

    Since when is the NT Lands Department situated within any Fire-fighting Station up there? I used to work on the Fire Alarm systems, and there just isn’t anyone in the Stations except firies.

  19. Jack Lumber

    June 29, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Re 41 while you like to brag about your time
    In the NT , some others on TT have also there too and even longer with locals and fire , so let’s not start dismissing
    people based on time in country . That’s just a humble brag by yourself which fails dismally

    That said I do agree with you re cattle and kangaroo
    and recommend to others to read ” going native ”
    And the ” emu wars”

  20. Russell

    June 29, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    Re #38
    I lived within an NT Inigenous community and the practice was still being used where it was required by traditional means and understanding. Traditional people burn in mosaics learned over thousands of years practice knowing when to burn and where it’s going to end up, so wildfires were not an issue and practically non-existent. If conditions weren’t exactly right, they didn’t do it – unlike FT.

    Your hearsay experience was probably done by those who had no traditional fire experience, local qualification or understanding, and probably not by Indigenous people. The use of fire is a widespread unbroken pratice over thousands of years among Indigenous people who have the correct training. Read the book I suggested and be enlightened.

    And I deeply resent your unwarranted insult of “… bullshit from creationists who have a stake in fantasy stories of certain individuals and groups.”

    I and many others have personal experience. You obviously have nothing but pub talk and information derived from fat-arsed desk-jockey wankers who also advise governments that clean coal is better than renewables and will save us from climate change.

    The only impediment or risk these days to traditional burning is where pastoralists have stopped the practice be allowed and introduced high sugar and fast growing exotic weeds like Gamba. Pastoralists also clear the land of native vegetation and water holes and courses which would normally inhibit fires and give shelter to wildlife. When I lived in the NT (for 13 years, so I’m talking extensive personal hands-on experience – not some internet ‘study’ from afar) there were always fires at certain times of year but they were so cool that you could literally walk through them. Talk to firies who were there in the 1980s.

    Pastoralism is a stupid and destructive business in these places because they just cannot sustain the stock numbers, that’s why ALL their skinny animals are sent to Malaysia to be “finished off” in their grain complexes before consumption. They just don’t belong in our northern country regions. Eventually the Malaysians will stop taking our animals when their own herd numbers have built up from the genetics of the ones we ship over there live.

    Why don’t Australians wake up and farm kangaroo?!!! No feed required, no water, no supplements and a better healthier product.

    Stop feeding everyone else, and stop ruining our country.

  21. garrystannus@hotmail.com

    June 29, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Hi Gordon (#37): Does this link help? – http://www.gianttreestas.com.au/

    As for the Giant Trees Consultative Committee, it seems to have vanished from all but the archives.

  22. John Wade

    June 28, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    Russell in 34 –

    I worked alongside, shared office space with the Fire Authority of the Lands Dept of the NT. I remember them coming home after days out fighting breakaway fires, fuming and pissed off.

    I asked who lit these fires and was it indigenous practice. The answer, No! It is vandals who light the scrub and grass plains.
    One of the bigger results is the invasion of prickly spinifex which locks out a lot of country.

    However, don’t take my word for it. Maybe look at the research of science.

    Owen Price, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires, University of Wollongong
    – On October 1, 2015 a fire lit to manage weeds at the Ranger Uranium Mine burned through 14,000 hectares of Kakadu National Park, threatening important rock-art sites and closing several tourist attractions.
    The Northern Territory Government and Energy Resources of Australia (the mine operators) are conducting enquiries to work out what went wrong and how to prevent similar accidents in the future, because like all natural disasters each one is an opportunity to learn.
    As it happens, this fire coincided with the publication this month of my research that helps us to understand the problem posed by unplanned fires in the savannas of northern Australia.
    That research highlights a 60-day window between August 9 and October 7 each year when huge fires can occur and these contribute an inordinate amount to the total area burnt across the north.

    My study used MODIS satellite mapping to examine the ignition date, duration and eventual size of 126,000 fires in Arnhem Land over a 10 year period. The largest fire ignited in late August 2004 and burned 445,000 hectares, 30 times the area burnt by the Ranger Mine or equivalent to a quarter of the size of Kakadu, our country’s largest national park.
    But other regions have it worse: an accidental fire in the northern Tanami ignited on August 4 2011 burnt an area at least 5 million ha. There are 22 European countries smaller than that. So the Ranger Mine fire is in no way unique: it just happened to occur in a highly visible area.
    Let’s take a step back and consider what is at stake with fires such as these. Research over many decades have shown that many species of fire-sensitive plants and animals are in decline across the north this is at least partially related to the loss of traditional burning practices which has led to an increase in fire frequency and a predominance of high-intensity late dry season fires (such as the Ranger Mine fire).

    Etc, etc and this research satisfies my on-ground experience in the Territory and my understanding of the vandals who lit them.
    I also have a deep reluctance to accept bullshit from creationists who have a stake in fantasy stories of certain individuals and groups.

    Fire management attempts to coerce fire into a desired regime using three primary strategies: prescribed burning, fire suppression and ignition management. The West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement project (WALFA), where prescribed Early Dry Season burning is used to reduce unplanned Late Dry Season burning, is heralded as model for prescribed burning. However, a previous analysis found that Late Dry Season area burnt in WALFA had been reduced further than would be expected based purely on the Early Dry Season treatment area. This study investigated whether treatment has reduced the number and size of unplanned fires. Daily burnt area mapping from MODIS satellite sensors was used to identify individual fires to compare fire activity before and after management was introduced in WALFA (2005) and in a control region in East Arnhem Land. Late Dry Season area burnt reduced after treatment in WALFA but also in the control region. The number of fires in August–October increased after treatment. There is a period from early August until late September when human ignitions can cause huge fires. Late Dry Season area burnt was strongly influenced by the size of the largest single fire and only weakly by the number of ignitions. Early Dry Season area burnt had modest effects on both the number and maximum size of Late Dry Season fires. Eliminating the largest fire in each 1600 km2 sample block would have halved the total Late Dry Season area burnt. A similar reduction could be obtained from a 14% annual treatment with Early Dry Season fire, but this may not reduce the overall area burnt. If overall fire frequency is the main threat to biodiversity in the savannas, then the best solution will be to prevent the small subset of fires that have the potential to become very large.

  23. Gordon Bradbury

    June 28, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    I notice that the official Giant Trees website (www.gianttrees.com.au) and the Giant Trees Consultative Committee are both gone.

    No more consultation thanks!

    Tasmania’s giant trees had their brief moment in the sun, but that is now past. These trees will only now tell the tale of the demise of the last of Tasmania’s iconic tall forests.

    Once these giant trees die there will be no more. Most of the Euc regnans regrowth was converted to nitens plantation over the past 20 years.

    So much for sustainable forest management.

  24. max

    June 28, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    # 35 Robin
    When you display full support for FT by writing “ Burn and burn well my hearties, autumn is action time to reduce the fuel loads” then it is very easy to get the wrong impression. The proposed visit to the scene of the crime ( pilgrimage to the site of the disposed giant to establish the spread of its gene pool in the form of successful regeneration nearby, which should be the case!) gives probably the wrong impressions as well. What ever the case FT displayed a cavalier attitude and if the gene pool exists it will take 350 years for any one to see the same aged tree in that spot again and that is highly unlikely.

  25. Robin Charles Halton

    June 28, 2017 at 11:21 am

    #28 Robert Middleton, by 2003 the year of the death by fire of El Grande I was not working for FT and nor have I since been engaged with paid forestry employment!

    Nor have I have never worked or rambled in the South Styx Valley, the location of the tree.

    I briefly worked in the National Park Range in 1971/ 72 with a Survey team marking out the Lake Gordon flood level line along Clear Hill Road and assisted Senior Ranger Roger Larner from time to time during the same period with fuel reduction burning of button grass plains and “coupe” demarcation.

    Fuel reduction Protection measures were necessary in the South West in advance of HEC and road building activity to harvest timber to be flooded by rising flood levels!

    # 29 Max, get your facts straight before you start shooting your mouth off about my forestry involvement re El Grande.

    Overall my better knowledge of the Great Southern forests is in the Huon area including Bruny Island and Tasmans Peninsula where I worked from the late 1960’s till mid 1970’s, I still visit these areas on both a recreational and forestry field observational basis from time to time.

    As I said earlier I will make a pilgrimage to the site of the disposed giant to establish the spread of its gene pool in the form of successful regeneration nearby, which should be the case!

    Its definitely not a place to go during the wetter/colder months of year hence my planned visit will take place during summer to camp out and spend some enjoyable time in the field.

  26. Russell

    June 28, 2017 at 3:28 am

    Re #17
    Wrong John. They still burn up north today to keep teh country clean and productive.

    You should also read The Biggest Estate On Earth” by Bill Gammage to learn why and how they did it.

  27. Russell

    June 28, 2017 at 3:23 am

    Re #19
    Errrr, there was a program on ABC TV the other day that showed drones planting, AS WELL AS seeding, thank you very much.

  28. Russell

    June 28, 2017 at 2:49 am

    Don’t call me a liar. You may point a finger at me, but three are pointing back at yourself.

    Ask the researchers. Do your own homework.

  29. john Hayward

    June 27, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    #30, Lumber. You are right. 1080 is still legal in Tas, probably as a cultural tradition.

    And DFTD was probably more likely to have been triggered by the mutagenic bacterium that was probably used by the Forestry CRC to surreptitiously develop GM plantation trees in a transnational program carelessly revealed to ABC RN by one of the UTas CRC scientists more than ten years ago.

    But you would probably have more details on that already.

    John Hayward

  30. Jack Lumber

    June 27, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    re 26 Apart from TT ,could you please send some links re 1080 and DFT .

    “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”
    vladimir l.

  31. max

    June 27, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    # 27 Is the old adage true, criminals always return to the scene of their crime.

  32. Robert Middleton

    June 27, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Re #27, Mr. Halton: your announcement that you intend to visit “the great Southern Forests” and conduct a field inspection of the site where El Grande was burned to death, is both captivating and alarming. What do you expect to find there? Why has it taken you fourteen years to respond? Did you express any outrage or sadness when you first learned of the heinous killing? Were you part of the cover-up to protect the cowards of FT and the perpetrators involved (who apparently are still on the loose)? Would you support the erection of a monument there to mark the site of one of the most infamous crime scenes in Tasmania? Do you comprehend the complete loss of credibility, respect and trust that characterize the public’s perception of Tasmanian foresters?

    I, too, would like to visit the site and see exactly where the great tree stood and what remains, if anything, of its massive trunk. I would stand silently in reverence and tread lightly out of respect. Then, after a while, I expect I would feel my body being consumed with rage over the stupidity, incompetence, malfeasance and betrayal that led to the historic crime committed there.

    I suppose you will be accompanied on your expedition by a team of gangling, goofy, young apprentice foresters from The Department of Silly Walks and Forestry Department, all eager to learn how to kill big trees.

    Just make sure you and your gang don’t break anything, burn anything or kill anything. Don’t spill a half-full jug of 1080 Kool-Aid on the ground or otherwise do anything to disturb the hallowed place where El Grande once stood. Don’t bark like dogs or make whinny sounds like horses and don’t drive your Klown Kar into a ravine. Don’t get lost or break a leg, necessitating a rescue. Do your “inspection” and get out of there. The trees and the creatures that live among them will not want you there and will be happy when you are gone so that peace and respect can return to the tortured land.

  33. Robin Charles Halton

    June 26, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    John, This summer when the weather is more to my taste for visiting the great Southern Forests I will check out the fate of El Grande with a field inspection of the site and hopefully I will be presented with the vigorous growth of the giant ecualypts offspring proliferating the areas as post natural seed fall as it was probably fortunate a hot enough burn resulted to create that essential ash bed for regeneration purposes.

    The emergence and successful next generational juveniles is the best that can now be expected within the over mature El Grande’s former long life cycle!

    Regnans are very sensitive to wildfire in this case a intensive burn.

    Heroic ventures by environmentalists have not always been responded to very well by FT especially as the environmentalists on the whole dont support native forest harvesting anyway.

    The two parties despite the false “Peace Talks” effectively it still remains as they hate each others guts and that is likely to remain the case forever!
    Now, Ed. please, that is not a threat but a harsh fact!

  34. Russell

    June 26, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Re #21
    Fire in Tasmania has never been so dangerous as since european invasion when firestick practices were banned, especially with the advent of plantations.

    You can still see the open plains in some areas which were burned periodically according to the flora found there by Indigenous Tasmanians to keep them open for grazing animals by killing off tree seeds and seedlings over thousands of years. Read The Biggest Estate on Earth by Bill Gammage.

    Re #23
    They also use 1080 poison to kill off all the native wildlife and cause the Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease. It’s all in the Tasmanian Times archives. 1080 has been banned everywhere else in the world except New Zealand where it’s produced.

  35. Robert Middleton

    June 26, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Re #24, thank you, Mr. Hawkins, for sharing that very valuable link to Libby Lester’s work.

    The cover-up by FT and the media of the killing of El Grande was an evil, sinister betrayal of the people of Tasmania and all those throughout the world who understand the true importance of trees.

  36. John Hawkins

    June 26, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Libby Lester* – in her thesis with references – notes the power of Tasmanian politicians over the Tasmanian press …

    Big tree, small news: Media access, symbolic power and strategic interventions

    The death of El Grande — Australia’s biggest tree and the world’s largest flowering plant and hardwood tree — created a powerful symbol for environmentalists challenging the destruction of native forests across Tasmania, but only outside Tasmania. In local media, the reporting of the tree’s fate remained contained and isolated from the broader environmental conflict. Using El Grande’s discovery, burning and death as a critical case study and drawing on a range of media texts and interviews with journalists, environmentalists and public relations practitioners, this article analyses the complex dynamics operating at the interface of symbolic power and news production, particularly in terms of the contest for media access and visibility by both elite and non-elite sources; the nature and successes of strategic interventions by competing sources and media themselves to enhance or limit this power; and how these various dynamics function over time.

    *Libby Lester’s thesis …


  37. ian butchoff

    June 26, 2017 at 3:31 am

    Dear Sir

    I live in London and was alerted to this story as a result I have searched in the Examiner and the Mercury using their search engines which provide no reference to this appalling lapse of corporate judgement by Forestry Tasmania.

    I believe what remained after clear felling around the tree was burnt using a helicopter and napalm.

    Is this American technology used on the Vietnamese still considered cutting edge down there in Tasmania?

    What is your next trick?

  38. Claire Gilmour

    June 26, 2017 at 1:26 am

    Fair dinkum ! the snake tribal predators were the least of our family worries! If I could have a game boy of … let’s test the warrior for hope for the real world … then as # 17 said … money snakes, neighbouring … I am a tribal predator! … I will NEVER give up learning/knowing the truth. It was a simple solution from my grandmother … as she said, and what her links said … I am!!!

  39. Factfinder

    June 26, 2017 at 12:49 am

    “Fire has been a constant visitor to Tasmanian
    forests for millions of years. It has shaped the evolution of many plant species and communities.

    In fact, many species are not only adapted to fire, but actually have features that help to promote it.

    Fire is an essential part of the life cycle of many plant communities, including dry eucalypt forests and wet eucalypt forests.
    Fire behaves differently, however, in each of these systems.
    A key difference between eucalypts and rainforest trees is that eucalypts are adapted to, and take
    advantage of major, widespread disturbances of the forest canopy, especially those caused by fire.
    Individual trees of different species can withstand the effects of fire to varying degrees, but all eucalypt forest types depend on it to some extent for regeneration.
    Eucalypt seed release is triggered by fire, when tough, woody capsules empty their contents onto a nutrient-rich ash seedbed from which all the understorey competition for light, water and nutrients has been removed.
    Browsing animals are driven out for a time, and the heat-treatment of soil reduces the numbers of plant-eating insects and soil organisms during the short but crucial early growth period.”
    Source: http://www.foresteducation.com/sites/forest-education/files/explore_category/files/eucalypt_adaptations.pdf

  40. Russell

    June 25, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    Cabinet maker, furniture maker – same qualifications, tools and techniques, but #14 may not recognise the difference having probably never done either.

    ““what’s left of our forests” is another prejudicial mis-statement suggesting – ‘there’s not much’
    There’s heaps.” I doubt you’d venture far enough out of Perth, Tasmania to really know. There’s none left where you live, and there’s certainly not enough in Tasmania to make up for the carbon emmissions pumped into the air as a result.

    Re #15
    “Most” but not all.

    Kraft pulp is wasted mostly on single-use newspapers and dunny paper which is then lost to the atmosphere. Kraft pulp also wastes billions of litres of water and produces one of the most poisonous toxins known.

    Eucalyptus or pine plantations – they are both responsible for most damaging and life-threatening wildfires around the world.

  41. Jack Lumber

    June 25, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    Re 16 errrrrrr did you actually read the ABC article re drones
    They are seeding NOT planting

  42. Simon Warriner

    June 25, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    re 15,JL ,given I had a fair bit to do with that plant, from commissioning til shutdown, I do wonder if the failure of the euc product was entirely down to the euc fibre and not some other problem, like management not knowing exactly what they were doing. I saw a fair bit of that before CHH took over, and as I has explained to me the high $aud had more than a little to do with the decision to close the plant. A shame, because I made a good part of my wage from fixing the cockups engineered into it at construction, and created by the idiotic thinking of the original managers that tradesman operators working shifts would have either the time or the inclination to maintain it. It ran for at least two years with only a single, very overworked and appallingly ignored maintenance worker. Eventually the managers relented and hired him a planner who spent most of his time wielding a spanner. When CHH took over they put on numerous fitters, electricians and specialist condition based maintenance techs. I do miss my coffee breaks with Nedzed.

    The sawing of euc was attempted by FEA around the corner at Bell Bay, in a hew saw milling plant run by Lee Mason, formerly of Hampshire Chip mill. Last heard of he was working for the polystyrene foam crowd in Launceston managing the factory. Clearly that trial was not a success. (another great guy to work with)

    re 16, Claire, you forgot the wallaby plague that came with the plantations and which drives adjoining farmers to distraction, and the endless game of log truck lotto forced upon all rural road users. I spent today preparing to take one witless log truck driver to court for his stupidity …

    (Claire, can you please drop Linz an email he can forward to me. I have some info regarding the Montumana fire that will interest you, and may help in identifying the guilty and holding them to account.)


  43. John Wade

    June 25, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    Claire, right on the money –
    “I don’t believe the Aborigines were as smart in the fire regimes they did as some make out”.

    An aboriginal fire warden I knew told me that the only aboriginals who lit fires were the vandals. However, we do know that the reason people used to light the ground around them when they came to new country was for safety, from snakes and neighbouring tribal predators.

  44. Claire Gilmour

    June 25, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Thank you so much for telling truth to power Peter Henning. And dare I say it, vindicating those in the general public who have been banished into the wilderness for speaking out from the destroyed front line forests under their own real name in the hope of positive change for all.

    All 3 parties – libs, labs, greens have been, in my opinion, complicit in creating and perpetuating Tasmania’s Plantation Isle. It’s a travesty for all who require food, water, shelter, safety … one can only wish some of these politicians lived with the repercussions of their sell out like some of us do! When it comes to Tasmania’s forests/forestry, whether that be native or plantations, fraud seems to be the name of the game!


    The Forestry Liberals mantra, as past Labour have also touted, is Forestry industry jobs, jobs, jobs will save everyone, the whole state over anything else!

    For years these political parties, through their infamous anonymous, decried tourism as … who wants to serve coffee!? Well I ask who wants to be a big beer bellied logging truck driver!? Are there better choices?

    Just imagine if the internet/social media had existed around the time when the horse and cart were replaced with, OMG cars! … The Libs extolling the virtues of private wooden wheel making and horse shoeing; Labor extolling the virtues of the right to a job of picking up horse shit in the street!

    Forestry planting boys jobs? … Hey now there are tree planting drones … you are superfluous!


    Fuck the water, property, life destroying pulp wood e-niten plantations! The sooner they are gone the better! If the Greens want native state forests protected, at least encourage native forest species to be replaced in the clearfelled/plantation areas. Introduced E-nitens, indeed any mass planting of eucs in rainforest areas (the high rainfall areas the forestry industry targets for their selfish growth) are a recipe for volatile fire disasters! They poison and suck the water catchments dry.

    Tasmania, indeed Australia isn’t JUST the land of the GUM tree, it’s a diverse environment, and to be perfectly frank I don’t believe the Aborigines were as smart in the fire regimes they did as some make out. Helping to change the landscape through fire thus increasing eucs was their desperate attempt in survival … not much different to the libs/labs/greens of today …

    Protect and grow the huon pine, sassafras, myrtle, blackwood etc areas. That is the future of Tasmania’s environment, safety, water, forest industry. Albeit much smaller in forestry – but richer in an environmental/water saviour/fire protection.

    The political country is supporting/paying/doing industrial scale farming, forestry, fishing, mining, schooling, health care – and the rich get richer as the planet degrades.

    The middle class is the now the used and abused lower class, and the poor? .. are? well just either enslaved or killed ALL AROUND THE WORLD!

    In the meantime all old mainstream political parties are falling apart internally in desperate attempt to keep up with the social media public …

    ie Christopher Pyne – is doing a Turnbull – trying to look like a nice connected to mainstream guy – all to con votes (or in lieu of getting the top Prime job!?) – who will do yet another turncoat …

    Now let’s get back to the roots, branches, leaves of a tree … it does what?

    Am I pushing boundaries? I hope so!

  45. Jack Lumber

    June 25, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    re 13 Most “chipboard ” is made from softwood .

    In another post someone else suggested that woodchip are used to make “chipboard” no they are used principally used to make kraft pulp


    In Tasmania there was a MDF plant ( not to be confused masonite established at Bell Bay in the mid 1990 , “STARWOOD” and was to use eucalypt

    Trial and error resulted in a product that was prone to not binding/delamination . By 2000 it had switched to 100% P radiata .

    After a change in ownership to CHH , the plant was found to be amongst the least profitable and was ear-tagged to close . A fire in the press sealed its fate and it was closed down in 2005

    The site was concerted to a sawing in 2007 and currently processes P radiata sawlogs

    Eucalypt plantation was trialled but at the time most of the volume was “destined ” for the then proposed Gunns Pulpmill

    It is unlikely that given the sovereign risks of Tasmania that any large scale processing /value adding to pulpwood plantations

    Russell that boat has sailed

  46. TGC

    June 25, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    #13 Probably means ‘cabinetry’ not ‘furniture’ – but #13 may not recognise the difference.
    and…”what’s left of our forests” is another prejudicial mis-statement suggesting – ‘there’s not much’
    There’s heaps.

  47. Russell

    June 24, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Re #9
    Most ‘furniture’ produced still is chipboard.

    There are thousands of hectares of plantations in Tasmania. USE THEM! And leave what’s left of our forests alone.

  48. garrystannus@hotmail.com

    June 23, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    A good research tool is provided by NewsBank. Those with (free) State Library of Tasmania (SLT) membership can access it here:


    Users may be asked to provide their SLT patron number and their password (usually their landline phone number) and, all things going smoothly, they will arrive at a screen asking where in the newspapers of the world they want to search. In this case (of El Grande, in Tasmania) one might:

    click on the Tasmania hotlink
    -type in “el grande” next to the All Text field (include the double inverted commas)
    -type in 2003 next to the AND Date(s) field
    -click on the orange search button.

    A number of Tasmanian newspaper articles will be found concerning the fate of that tree, as well as letters to the Editor. [for articles and letters subsequent to 2003, just leave the date option empty…]

    PS: Remember, you will need your State Library membership number and password in order to access this resource.

  49. MJF

    June 23, 2017 at 1:27 pm


    Please explain

    The FT bulletin from may, 2003 states the matter was extensively covered in local and national media.

    You say it wasn’t

    What other local media could FT be referring to if not the merc and the ex ?

    You’re not using a little poetic licence are you Hawk to embellish what is 14yo regurgitated news ?

    Doesn’t sound like you.

    #9 unlikely to end up in Point piper McMansions TGC as the socially and environmentally conscious consumers in such locales will undoubtedly only be sourcing FSC branded products. This allows them to sleep peacefully at night while they go about their day jobs price gouging the ordinary punters e.g. company ceo’s & cfo’s

  50. Frank again

    June 22, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    For the record: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qwVsv5OqIg
    Watch ‘El Grande’ recording from 23:23min to 34:54min
    Sickening the waste that was going on and the industry was just ignoring the signals.

  51. TGC

    June 22, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    #8 “chipboard cupboards’ – now that’s going back a bit. And, in any event, some of the most despised outcomes from the cutting down of any tree- do in fact have the most practical uses- even if sometimes only briefly. (It’s only when the toilet roll is empty is the paper that was there fully appreciated)As for the export of woodchips-well, that’s still a very lively trade even though still very much despised.- except by those who see a market and a renewable resource to supply it.
    Maybe #8 isn’t into renewables?
    (Contributed post prandial)
    Stop Press: Just spotted a truck load of hardwood boards heading north- I can already ‘see’ the end product in the beautiful polished hardwood floor in that new house being built at Point Piper in Sydney

  52. Mark Temby

    June 22, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    #6, one of the puzzling things about our fine timbers exported for national and international demand was how Tasmania had more wood chips than all the other states for such a sustained period. As annual exports grew beyond $5 million tonnes Bacon and Lennon stopped access to the statistics. FOI laws were deliberately difficult as FT was a GBE and no longer the Forestry Commission. One year some clever Dickens went through the Ports Authority and gained the record figure around 6 million tonnes. Lennon quickly closed yet another loophole.

    I like Tasmanian fine furniture – particularly those chipboard cupboards that last about two years before they get dumped at the tip. Seriously, #6, don’t just type rhetorical nonsense for something to do with your mornings.

  53. Ted Mead

    June 22, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    The vandalism of El Grande has become the definitive example of what FT ultimately stands for – Ignorance, naivety, and completely clueless in knowledge when it comes to understanding ecology or preservation of something.

    FT did everything wrong in that coupe insofar as protecting that magnificent tree. Someone could write a complete thesis of that folly.

    The classed stream (in the rear of the pic here) was given a miniscule buffer, and they logged all the big trees right up to its edge.

    They then decided to run a dozer around the base of the tree, which I suspect was an attempt to remove the fuel load, thus disturbing the main surface roots.

    Obviously the regeneration burn went horribly wrong and the enormous radiant heat spread into El Grande’s zone so the bark and heart fire did the damage. Essentially it was cooked it from the inside and out, because as soon as the sap and water in the capillary zone boiled it was a certain death.

    Even if the tree hadn’t been subjected to the hot blaze, it was probably doomed considering it was located high up on an exposed site where it was subjected to storm forces.

    Having clear felled almost completely around the tree, and the base soil and roots disturbed the likelihood of it blowing down was high.

    I did suggest to FT’s ‘so-called conservation biologist’ at that time by saying “someone should be strung up for that”

    But I think for the first time in his life he was gobsmacked and mute!

  54. TGC

    June 22, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    #2 One of the puzzling aspects of “the last remaining high conservation forests” is that, even though logging continues in native forests in order to meet national and international demand for our fine hardwoods-(architects may be to blame for that as they recognise the beauty of these timbers and specify them in high-end projects) there always seem to be “the last remaining high conservation forests”

  55. Ted Mead

    June 22, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    #4 – My recollections of the Ada Tree area was it had been selective logged over the last century or two. The general area when I last visited some decades ago had never been subjected to the ignorant madness of clear fell and pyromania like what happens in Tas. Therefore the big old trees remained in a damp environment with other forest around them giving them some protection from the elements!

  56. Mick Kenny

    June 22, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    If you ever find yourself in out near Noojee in Victoria, the Ada Tree is another giant E.regnans, or Mountain Ash as the Tasmanian Swamp Gum is more commonly known. From memory, five episodes of fire have left this area with multiple generations of E. regnans, an interesting ecological example in itself, given the tendency for such forest to burn fiercely, leaving but a few stags amid the regeneration (provided such fires are not too frequent >20 years or so).

    See also:


  57. Robert Middleton

    June 22, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    I don’t have the writing skills to adequately express my gratefulness to you, Mr. Hawkins, for the words and pictures you shared today in memory of the great tree known as El Grande.

    The death of El Grande should be the cause of an annual day of mourning in Tasmania.

    School children should be taught the story of El Grande and should be enabled to plant trees in its memory at school or other locations.

    The evil methods, comparable to the worst-imaginable witchcraft or Pagan rituals or sexual mutilation of children, used by Forestry Tasmania, that led to humanity’s loss of this world treasure, were horrid, inhumane and the work of deviant scoundrels.

    All those involved in perpetrating this extraordinary act of vandalism should have been imprisoned for life and never again allowed to be trusted with the care of any aspect of Tasmania’s precious heritage.

    In my wildest imagination, I can see them being returned to the old days of Port Arthur at its worst and subjected to the same kind of inhumane treatment given to the worst of the worst.

    Perhaps there should be a registry, as is done with child sex offenders, that helps to assure that these vile criminals are never allowed to enter a forest again.

    The loss of this one great tree forever shatters the reputation of all those Tasmanians who consider themselves to be “foresters” but did not speak out publicly in outrage when this hideous act occurred.

    Is there a code of ethics for foresters in Tasmania, or an association that holds its members to certain universally-recognized, professional standards of conduct, care and due diligence? If there is, it should have provided a method for purging from its ranks those who commit criminal acts against trees.

  58. Mark Temby

    June 22, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    …and so we are reduced to this. A fight over the last remaining high conservation forests totalling just 350,000 hectares. Another fight in the shadows over World Heritage listed forests. The forest estate mostly clearfelled and exported or burnt. The dreams of pulp mills, FSC approvals, special timbers and a viable industry rising with the smoke from forest residue burns under the guise of a multitude of excuses and red herrings.

    Jonathan West’s report, from memory, highlighted the loss of all Tasmania’s native forest timber estate by 2026 (ten years) if current practices were continued. His report was a culmination of input from FT, FIAT, industry and conservation groups. It was condemned as biased by the usual old men resistant to change. Some promote wood pellet power mills. Any carbon based power (oil, coal, gas or wood) generation has only a short life in the world’s future. The younger men like Hodgman and Barnett won’t challenge them. The Liberal government and the forest industry continue to drift lest they alienate a few regional timber towns. If no one can show leadership or provide a realistic future vision of a self sustaining industry then it’s time to let go.

  59. Rom

    June 22, 2017 at 11:09 am

    … and they wonder why we have had enough of the constant crap that comes out of Barnett’s face !

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