New Sugar Pine Planting

Local Batlow nursery delighted with Sugar Pine seedling success.

Owners of the Batlow-based Gould’s nursery are happy to report that natural regeneration from Bago State Forest has been successfully propagated for a new Sugar Pine planting.

The Sugar Pine Walk was sadly destroyed in Dunns Road fire. Gould’s Nursery is working with Forestry Corporation to grow the next generation of Sugar Pines.

Nursery owner Jamie Gould said there was a scattering of pine seedlings under a patch of 1930s Sugar Pine close to the famous Laurel Hill attraction.

“Forestry Corporation’s Ben Wielinga dropped in one day with a photo of recently germinated seedlings on Central Logging Road,” Mr Gould said.

“It was only three months since the fire – the seedlings were still coming up and no taller than your index finger.

“At that stage we were not sure if they would transplant well or even if they were definitely Sugar Pine.”

Sugar Pine seeds can’t be bought in Australia. The species is threatened in its native North America and biosecurity prevents seed from being imported. Locally, the hefty cones are a favourite food source for cockatoos.

Forestry Corporation was keen to establish another Sugar Pine planting as the original had been so popular with locals and tourists.

Ben Wielinga from Forestry Corporation said the Sugar Pine Walk was an iconic local destination.

“We ran a photography competition to commemorate it after the fires and more than 300 people sent in their favourite photographic memories of the site.”

“Finalists were collated into a coffee table book and the Sugar Pine Walk Memories book is available on the website.”

The Gould’s were enthusiastic to help create a new Sugar Pine Walk. Jamie and his two children Riley and Rayleigh rescued around 1700 seedlings from the site in March 2020 in partnership with Forestry Corporation.

“It was a family effort over a couple of weekends to collect the seedlings from the under the burnt trees,” he said.

“Growing the seedlings in the nursery has been an interesting challenge.

“It is also nice to be involved in renewal following the fires. I won’t be alive to see these sugar pine mature as they take tens of years to reach maturity, but hopefully future generations will.”

The bulk of the seedlings will be replanted as a replacement to the former Sugar Pine Walk, with 192 also donated to the National Arboretum in Canberra for their botanical collection.

While planning for the replacement walk is well underway, the former site is still having an impact on the local community. Forestry Corporation donated some of the salvaged sugar pine wood to community groups around the region to support their fundraising activities.

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