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Ash forests to forests of ash

1 July 2022

Desperate efforts to regenerate Victoria’s towering ash forests, which are being regularly decimated by bushfires, involves a dedicated group searching high and low to bank enough seeds for their survival.

An icy wind starts to strengthen on the peak of Mount Wills in north-east Victoria. It’s just another part of the challenging and changing conditions that professional climber Daniel Jenkins deals with on the job each day.

But the idea of standard 9-5 office work leaves him terrified. Instead, he’d rather be spending months on end in remote corners of Victoria, vulnerable to bitter and unpredictable alpine elements, scaling some of the forests’ most spectacular giants.

The wind sends strong ripples through the branches at the crown of the 50-metre-high alpine ash tree he’s preparing to scale, but it’s not enough to keep him grounded, not today at least.

Harness on. Chainsaw attached at the hip. As the weather starts to deteriorate, Mr Jenkins wastes no time in scaling this promising giant swaying in the alpine breeze. Metre by metre he climbs.

The sound of a buzzing chainsaw cuts through the whoosh of the wind funnelling through the leaves overhead. The ash tree’s limbs begin tumbling to the forest floor far below with an explosive thud. It’s exhausting, time-consuming, cold and often stomach-churning work.

And the physical reward is tiny: a peppercorn-sized seed pod clinging to the canopies, almost invisible from the ground with the naked eye.

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Source: ABC

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