A group of like-minded community members have joined forces to form a working group that will help restore Tuart Forest and would like more people to join them.
The forest is the only one in the world which grows this particular variety of tuart trees (eucalyptus gomphocephal) and has been in decline since foresting ceased in the 1980’s.
The Ludlow Tuart Forest Restoration Group president Evelyn Taylor said the forest was huge in its day and responsible for the colony being so successful.
“[The timber] was the first export from WA,” she said.
“We now need a diversity of age in the forest – we have none at the moment – we just have old trees.
It is a world asset and we are not taking any notice of it.
“This is a really important area which is under threat from development to the north and south.”
Retired forester Des Donnelly said in the early days timber was put into rowing boats and taken down the estuary into Geographe Bay and loaded onto sailing ships.
“The forest has a great history,” he said. “It is an international treasure, the only one in the world and it needs to be looked after,” he said.
“The problem was we took out all the timber people could sell back in the early days and at the same time the forest was divided up into farming leases so people could run cattle,
“The cattle effectively ate any regrowth so we never got a crop coming on from the old trees that were left, those that are left are scattered and there are not many.”
Mr Donnelly said because no regeneration happened it was now being overrun with arum lilies, peppermint trees and kangaroos.
Since most of the good trees were taken out, Mr Donnelly said only old stags remained which had created an imbalance where peppermint trees had taken over as a crop, and should only be an under-storey species.
“Nobody is doing anything to encourage regrowth, the first thing we need to do is plant more trees and there are areas where we can do that,” he said.
“The old pine plantations have been clear felled and taken away, those areas are bare and we need to reestablish tuart on those.
“We can grow the trees, we know how to do it.
”Eventually someone may want to use them, not now but maybe in 100 years, they are a resource.”
The Ludlow Tuart Forest Restoration Group will hold a meeting for people who are interested in joining them at the Capel Country Club from 7pm to 8pm on Monday, February 26.