Revegetation after the storm

The storm event in June saw an estimated 25,000 trees fall throughout the Yarra Ranges. 

In the months following, trees were removed from private property and public land along with fallen debris that was within three metres of the roadside. 

Some of this fallen material was removed for safety, to allow easier access along roads and paths and to help reduce potential bushfire fuel.

Still, some of that material has remained, with stumps and some fallen logs assisting in the recovery of the Yarra Ranges ecosystem.

Why is there still storm debris in some locations?

There has been a concerted effort to remove most of the debris from the storm damage, but the steep and uneven terrain of the Dandenong Ranges has meant that in places, heavy machinery may cause extra damage to both the road and the environment.

As heavy machinery travels over soil it compresses reducing the soils capacity to filter water and air.

This compaction affects plant growth and it can take some time before the natural plant life recovers.

These disturbances can allow unwanted pest plants and animals to establish in the area, causing ongoing issues.


Do fallen trees pose a fire risk?

Stumps and large logs that have been left in the environment do not pose a high fire risk due to their density and high moisture content.

Large logs can retain their water for long periods of time. With a wet summer predicted the likelihood for them to ignite and spread fire is significantly reduced.

Larger logs also have the added benefit of improving the ecosystem and biodiversity

Council has also removed the majority of small fine fuels such as branches, dry grass, bark, and leaf litter, which are known to ignite quickly and spread rapidly.

Why are tree stumps and some fallen trees left behind?

Storm events are a natural process that are vital for a healthy, functioning ecosystem.

After removing a fallen tree, what is often left behind is the sturdy stump that once anchored it in place.

These tree stumps are purposefully left behind to help prevent erosion. A tree stump also acts as shelter, habitat, food resources, and foraging grounds for many species. 

As the stump slowly degrades and decomposes, its nutrients are released into the soil, which improves the soil quality.

Some fallen trees have also been left behind and this is because they are proven to benefit biodiversity by:

  • Providing shelter and resources to flora and fauna
  • Giving shelter to animals during a bushfire
  • Providing a site for ground cover plants, particularly those dispersed by wind and water, to establish after a fire event 
  • Retaining moisture in the soil
  • Stabilising the soil and preventing erosion
  • Creating a microclimate where small animals and seedlings can prosper, protected from the elements and predators
  • Contributing nutrients into the soil during the degradation process attracts insects and reptiles, which attracts smaller mammals such as echidnas and many species of birds




When will Council begin replanting?

The Yarra Ranges Council Environment Team is watching for natural regrowth of native plants throughout the affected areas.

In the absence of trees, it is expected that the seed bank within our soils are rich enough to sustain themselves.

Council and volunteers will continue to monitor the recovery of the natural environment and see how best to support the regeneration. 


How did the storm affect native animals?

The Yarra Ranges is renowned for its natural fauna, boasting a wide diversity of kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, echidnas, and native birds. 

After the storms, concerns from the community were raised about the survival of our native animals, particularly the Powerful Owl. Many of the bushland areas in the Yarra Ranges support breeding pairs, and in recent years the lack of hollow-bearing trees has threatened their survival. 

While the loss of these trees during the storm was concerning. Work to retain hollow-bearing trees has been an important part of Council's recovery works.

Hollow-bearing are being returned to reserves and repurposed for use by other species.

In more good news, since the storm, Council's monitoring of several Powerful Owl pairs within the Mt Evelyn region suggests that the birds have survived the storms, with most successfully breeding in 2021. 

If you would like to become involved in the monitoring of the Powerful Owls, please contact Council’s Bushland Team to discuss joining local environmental volunteer groups (there are approximately 75 across the Yarra Ranges). 

In partnership with our volunteer groups and other agencies, Council will continue to monitor known birds and look for opportunities to enhance habitat or provide alternative resources in the affected areas.


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