In June 2021, a severe windstorm in the Dandenong Ranges caused thousands of trees to fall over (also known as “windthrow”), with significant impacts on homes and the forest. ARI is working closely with other government agencies and the local community to help forest and community recovery after the storm. The aims of the project include:

  • assessing the recovery of forest trees and understorey plants in severely wind-affected areas of Dandenong Ranges National Park
  • helping the local community connect with the recovery of the natural environment after the storm.

Fallen trees in a forest

Monitoring plots have been set up to measure the effect that mechanical clearing of fallen trees has on regeneration, or if woody debris and fallen logs impede plant regeneration. After the windstorm, surveys were undertaken in two windthrow areas and data collected on the cover of canopy tree seedlings, understorey plant species, and fallen logs and branches. Some of the fallen logs and branches will be removed during the summer of 2022/2023 to reduce future fire hazard. These areas will then be surveyed again and compared with areas not affected by windthrow.

The community has been involved in engagement activities after the windstorm. Students at Mt Dandenong Primary School have been learning about forest regeneration and ecology by collecting samples of local native plants and recording their locations on the iNaturalist database. Yarra Ranges Council have installed nest boxes for birds and possums at the school, and the students have been involved in checking these with wildlife cameras. Further community engagement led by ARI is planned, including citizen science activities with Friends of Kalorama Park.

There has been very little research into the recovery of forests affected by severe windthrow in Victoria, and, with disturbances from windstorms likely to become more common due to climate change, this project will provide insights into how to manage forests after similar events in the future.

This work is being undertaken in collaboration with DELWP’s Port Phillip Region (Forest Fire Management, Natural Environment Programs), Parks Victoria, Yarra Ranges Council, and Mount Dandenong Primary School.

A person holding a camera next to a fallen tree

For more information on this work, contact annette.muir@delwp.vic.gov.au

Page last updated: 15/12/22