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Centurion - tallest eucalypt

Main characteristics

Coordinates: 43.07729 S 146.76874 E
No:8        (list of all attractions)
Category:Trees, Biological extremes
Values:Biology
Rank:3
Address:Australia and Oceania, Australia, Tasmania, west from Geeveston, 4 km northeast of the Tahune Airwalk
Alternate name:The Bradman
Species:Mountain ash or swamp gum (Eucalyptus regnans F.Muell.)
Height:99.8 m
Circumference:13.7 m
Diameter:4.05 m
Volume:268 m3

The tallest known contemporary eycalypt - Centurion - was found in an unconventional way – from an airplane.

Looking for wood, finding a Tree

As nearly any state owned forestry in the world, Forestry Tasmania has to combine two roles: to act as a protector of forest and to get profit out of the forest. But Tasmanian forests are not common ones – they contain some of the highest, mightiest and also oldest trees of the world. It has been stated that any tree in Tasmanian state forests exceeding the fantastic 85 metre height and/ or 280 cubic metres of volume should be registered and protected (5).

In August 2008 Forestry Tasmania staff were using their state-of-the art air borne equipment for the mapping and assessment of the values of commercial forest in the Arve River basin. Laser equipment named LiDAR (light detection and ranging) lately has gained much popularity and is extensively used for very exact and convenient 3D mapping of the land surface. When mapping a forest, LiDAR shows both the surface of trees and land level thus helping to assess the amount of wood in between.

Later, when looking through the data collected by LiDAR, employees Mayo Kajitani and David Mannes noticed two previously unknown very tall trees standing close together – both exceeding 85 metres height and one being even some 99 metres high. As LiDAR tends to underestimate tree height, foresters thought that the tree might be even 101 metres high.

Second species of tree exceeding 100 metre height?

This was sensation: nowadays only in California coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens (D. Don) Endl.) exceed 100 metre height.

Shortly afterwards both trees were inspected from the ground with another kind of laser equipment. Top of the highest tree was hidden in the canopy and there were possible only approximate measurements. It was assumed that the tree is at least 101 metres high. Age was assessed to be some 400 years (4) and diameter was measured to be 4.05 metres (5).

Of course, the tree was one of eucalypts – swamp gum (Eucalyptus regnans). Genus of eucalypts include approximately species and eucalypts belong to the largest trees of planet in any respect – girth of largest trees might exceed 20 metres and the volume of trunk – 350 m3.

David Mannes later in an interview told that he was saving a name "Centurion" for the 100th giant tree of Tasmania but he never expected that the hundredth tree would also exceed 100 metres height. This name has a root "centum" meaning in Latin "hundred".

The other giant tree also is swamp gum. It was named Triarius, its height was comparatively easy to measure from the ground – 86.5 metres. Diameter of the trunk – impressive 3.90 m (1).

Before this discovery the highest tree in Australia was another swamp gum of Tasmania named "Icarus Dream" and with measured height 97 metres.

There are many reports of taller eucalypts form earlier times in Victoria, some claiming heights exceeding 150 metres but most of these reports are not credible enough. Still it is considered that eucalypts theoretically can exceed even 110 metre height. Maximum historical heights of trees in Tasmania are less impressive with two blue gums (E.globulus) having 101 metres height as measured in 1906.

Troubled forest

Discovered forest giants were located in non-protected state forest but immediately were included in the list of protected trees.

This is lucky coincidence that Centurion has survived. Wildfires in 1934 spared just a few older trees in this area and passed on west side. In 1950 there was logging nearby and at that time this giant tree would not be spared. In 1966 and 1967 the forest close nearby was deliberately burned for later regeneration, in 1967 this turned into furious, devastating fires. This time fire passed the tree on east side (5).

These fires were a reason why the forest around the giants was not oldgrowth and thus – not protected. It was not expected to find any tall trees in this area.

100 metres not yet achieved

Later more exact measurements were made by tree climbers Greenwood and Mifsud (1). This brought some disappointment. Tree turned out to be below the 100 metre height: 99.6 metres. Tree climbers thus gave another name to tree – "the Bradman" as 99.6 metres is similar length to the test run average of legendary Australian cricketer Donald Bradman (2). Later measurements slightly increased the height of the tree - 99.8 m.

Meanwhile the tree has good hopes to exceed 100 metre height. Tree climbers also reported that crown is healthy and is respouting from broken top, thus some time ago it was some 103 metres high.

Map

See this monument on the map of Australia!

 

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