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Ths author is a Chartered Professional Engineer, providing specialized consultancy services in International Broadcasting Engineering. He is graduate of the Royal Melbourne Instiutute of Technology.and holds the rank of Member, Institution of Engineers Australia . he is a recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for Services to Shortwave Radio, and was employed by the PMG's Dept/ATC/Telecom Australia from 1956 until 1997...

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Monday, August 27, 2012

The Cement Creek Heritage Plantation


The Cement Creek Plantation is of State significance due to its associations with the extensive revegetation program conducted by the MMBW in the 1920s and 1930s, following clearing of areas of the forested catchments through fires and logging.


It is now Heritage Listed within the Victorian Heritage Database.

It is located about 8 km east of Warburton, on the Cement Creek Rd, and a small car park is located outside the gated entrance to the Plantation Reserve.

Background


It demonstrates the scientific knowledge and availability of seed at that time, when the understanding of mountain ash regeneration was not well developed and the attitude towards revegetation with exotic tree species probably also reflected nineteenth century cultural attitudes towards aesthetic plantings.

The plantations are of particular interest for its use as part of the Board's forest hydrology research program, established in the 1940s and commenced at Coranderrk in the 1950s. The plantation represents the Board's utilisation of conifer species already growing in the Cement Creek catchment, in order to acquire comparative data on canopy interception.

The conifer plantations in the Cement Creek Catchment were established by the Board of Works from 1930, following clearing of the original eucalypt forest.

By the late 1920s, the cleared areas had become overgrown with scrub and other weeds such as blackberry.

Between 1929 and 1934, exotic conifers were progressively planted, basically as a weed control measure. The species that thrived included Bishop's pine (Pinus muricata), Douglas fir and Californian Redwood.

The Board undertook an extensive regeneration program in the Catchments at this time, particularly in areas that were failing to revegetate naturally through destruction by frequent fires. A wide variety of species were used but, in general, the Board utilised the seed and technology that was available for forest regeneration at that time.

Further areas were planted with Pinus radiata, Western Red Cedar and Redwood in 1960-63, and assessed in 1976. While the redwood species grew vigorously, the Radiata pine was of poor quality. The conifer plantations effectively suppressed any understorey vegetation.

The plantations were selected for experimental purposes as part of the Board's forest hydrology research program begun at Coranderrk in the 1950s.

The Cement Creek plantation provided small plots in which to study the canopy interception results in comparison with the native forest trees in the Coranderrk area.

The main aims of the research were to establish the relationship between vegetation type and water yield, and to evaluate the effect of forest operations on water yield and quality. Whilst the main focus was to establish data for different types of native forest catchment qualities, conifer plantations were included to give comparative data.

The experiments undertaken at Coranderrk and Cement Creek included recording hydrological processes such as throughfall, stem flow and canopy interception. In all, the 1960s-70s program involving Cement Creek included five native forest communities and three conifer plantations.

Throughfall was measured by division of the plots into a square grid of 16 positions in each plot. All positions were numbered, troughs placed to collect throughfall, and measurements carried out weekly. Stemflow involved collecting water running down the stems of selected trees by a collar diverting water into a collection hose at the front, or by a spiral wound around the tree.

The extensive plantation contains plots of Californian Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Pinus radiata, with access tracks intersecting the plantation.

I visited the Plantation on August 26, 2012, for a 3 km hike. The Cement Creek (West Branch) is adjacent to the Reserve. A caretaker's residence once existed on the Reserve, but little trace remains.

Hiking paths pass through and around the Plantation, which were originally the access tracks.

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