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Byron Shire
March 29, 2023

Camphor clearing

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In a recent article about Craig Huff he spoke about commercialising the harvest of camphor laurel trees using commercial operators to remove the trees, creating economic activity etc. 

However, if camphor was to be eradicated in Burringbar there would be simply nothing left except bare hills. In the early days of settlement clearing was almost mandatory, being done on a mindless scale; early photos clearly show the devastation – dairy farmers, banana plantations, huge areas for hardwood timber for railway bridges and sleepers, the enormous red cedar and rosewood trees etc – all chopped down and sent to Sydney.

So camphor sprouted up. Like it or not it offers shade, helps stabilise creek banks, slows down growth of noxious weeds under its canopy, and sucks up carbon dioxide. Yes, weeds are a prolific problem in the Northern Rivers, none more so than Singapore daisy, now everywhere, and include lantana, crofton weed, Devil’s fig, all sorts of grasses – the list is endless. The thought of clearing land of camphor, inevitably using large machinery for road and housing development, for more population, to me would be a shame.

Simon Thompson, Burringbar

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  1. Clearing land of camphor using machinery would be futile because it recreates the conditions that caused the camphor to dominate.

    Removing camphor is best achieved by poisoning the trees and leaving them standing. Small native trees underneath whose growth had been suppressed by compounds in the camphor will begin to grow rapidly.

    The carcass of the camphor will slowly break down, first the leaves then the twigs then the small branches, slowly but surely introducing sunlight to the native trees below. By the time the big branches start falling years later they have lost most of their weight, causing minimal damage to the far more substantial natives that have grown up to take the camphor’s place.

    • Good plan. We have a similar situation with Lancewood turning the soil too alkaline for anything else to grow. Ring barking them and leaving them to stand does indeed work. When they fall down and shatter, makes good firewood.

      • No evidence about lancewood turning soil alkaline, need to reference your info Christian. Anyway bring on camphor removal,continually removing seedlings from under trees. Hopefully removal will be in conjunction with replanting big scrub trees.

        • Pop over to my place and I’ll take you to paddock D3. I have both digital meters and paper indicator strips for soil testing so you can check yourself. I’m sure my neighbours would allow you to run the same tests in their problem areas to confirm. We enjoy a good laugh when concrete treaders try to tell us how the country works.

          • Cause & effect? Lancewood is known & promoted as a species suitable for neutral & mildly alkaline soils.
            Maybe you need to get off the computer for a minute & have a closer look. And site land use history, & pH in the wider area. We enjoy a good laugh when the sovereign pitt st farmers tell us how good they are a farming


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