If a tree falls in the forest…

If a tree falls in the forest…

Philoso­phers have asked, if a tree falls in the for­est and no one is there to hear it, does it real­ly make a sound?

Per­haps they have missed the point. To pre­serve the com­plex ecosys­tems that a for­est sup­ports, we need to be there.

Though not too close obviously…

Here’s a good example:

The Chow­illa flood­plain north­east of Ren­mark has one of the largest remain­ing areas of nat­u­ral­ly occur­ring Riv­er Red Gums on the low­er Murray.

The flood­plain extends over 17,800 hectares and spans the South Aus­tralian and New South Wales bor­der. The Riv­er Red Gums (many of which are hun­dreds of years old) and Black Box wood­lands extend over large areas of this flood­plain and the Chow­illa Game Reserve.

They are a mag­nif­i­cent fea­ture of the flood­plain and, of course, a vital part of the nat­ur­al ecosystem.

They’re hardy too – and they’ve had to be. Like much of the veg­e­ta­tion along the Mur­ray, they’ve received quite a lot less water than they’d like in recent years.

But areas like the Chow­illa Flood­plain that once received water from flood­ing flows every two to three years now only receive them on aver­age about every eight to nine years. This has result­ed in a large pro­por­tion of Riv­er Red Gums along the Riv­er Mur­ray in SA suf­fer­ing from stress and many have died.

Fre­quent flood­ing is impor­tant to a Riv­er Red Gum’s exis­tence. The flood­ing enables salty soils and ground­wa­ter to be fresh­ened so that it can sup­port healthy growth.

We’ve been pump­ing envi­ron­men­tal water to a num­ber of wet­lands across the Chow­illa flood­plain and this has helped, but in real­i­ty it only ben­e­fits around 10 per cent of the total floodplain.

That’s why a new man­age­ment approach using a recent­ly con­struct­ed envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tor on the Chow­illa Creek was devel­oped. The reg­u­la­tor can be used to raise water lev­els in the creek and so push water into wet­lands and across the flood­plain. It will allow more fre­quent broad scale flood­ing of up 50 per cent of Chow­illa flood­plain. This will help improve the health and resilience of the Riv­er Red Gums and oth­er plants and animals.

The Chow­illa Flood­plain extends to and beyond the bor­der with NSW and has been declared an offi­cial icon site’ under the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Authority’s Liv­ing Mur­ray program.

Hope­ful­ly we can cel­e­brate this Nation­al Tree Day lis­ten­ing only for the sound of hypo­thet­i­cal trees falling.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living