The expression “farmers are the unique environmentalists” will get thrown round rather a lot in regional Queensland.
The expression refers back to the ecological administration expertise these working the land have and the way in the event that they mistreat it, they’re placing themselves out of a job.
Queensland cattle farmer Lindsay Titmarsh proves that behind each saying there’s some fact.
The Titmarsh household has labored the almost 5,000-hectare Tandora property, simply north of Maryborough in south-east Queensland, since 1907.
From the homestead you look over huge scrubland and mangrove forest throughout the Mary River estuary in the direction of the world’s largest sand island Okay’gari (Fraser Island), which interprets from the Indigenous Butchulla language as “paradise”.
Mr Titmarsh tends to the huge property with the identical care and a spotlight as a cottage backyard would possibly obtain.
He may stroll you across the farm for days telling tales in regards to the animals and vegetation that cohabit along with his household and he has even revealed a number of books in regards to the area.
However of the 1000’s of bushes on Tandora Station, a sure gray mangrove, or Avicennia marina, caught Mr Titmarsh’s eye and he immediately knew there was one thing particular about it.
The Magna Carta tree
Mr Titmarsh first seen the tree when he was strolling by way of the realm 20 years in the past.
“Earlier than that every one we had been doing was chasing crabs or pigs in right here and the mangroves had been a little bit of a nuisance once you had been chasing a pig, so it is solely within the final 20 years I’ve checked out them from a distinct angle and seen the great thing about them,” he mentioned.
“After I noticed this tree I knew it was previous, it was the oldest one I’ve ever seen.”
Ultimately Mr Titmarsh determined he would have the tree carbon dated and sourced a pattern from contained in the hole base, which he despatched to the New Zealand College of Waikato Radiocarbon Relationship Laboratory.
The outcomes got here again as 738 +/- 65 BP which means the mangrove tree was greater than 700 years previous.
“After I came upon how previous it was I named it the Magna Carta tree as a result of if you happen to return that far you get to the 12 months 1215, which was Magna Carta days,” Mr Titmarsh mentioned.
“It is nonetheless alive and it is even nonetheless acquired fruit on it.”
Oldest recognized mangrove in Australia
Professor Norman Duke is a mangrove ecologist and botanist who has named about 10 per cent of the world’s mangrove inhabitants in his 40 years of examine.
“That is the oldest [mangrove] tree we find out about in Australia and possibly the world rating in that respect,” Professor Duke mentioned.
“We have a number of folks capturing in photos from the Philippines and different locations trying to compete with that however no one else has carbon dated and confirmed it.
“When Lindsay Titmarsh has carbon dated and confirmed it, that is fairly particular.”
Usually, the bottom diameter of a mangrove tree is an indicator of its age and Professor Duke mentioned the measurement of the Magna Carta tree stem matched the carbon relationship.
“The age matches with the girth or stem, which is a proxy of a measure to find out their age,” he mentioned.
“That tree measures round three metres and that matches with what we have now for the dedication of age of different bushes and we develop relationships on a graph that exhibits age versus stem diameter.
“So with all of the proof we have now, it is completely justified to belief that carbon relationship.”
Whereas the tree is presently the oldest Avicennia marina on file in Australia and most probably the world, there might be older mangroves but to be discovered.
Surviving excessive situations
Of the 46 mangrove species presently present in Australia, Avicennia marina is a typical mangrove situated everywhere in the coastal mainland.
Till not too long ago, it was believed they lived for under 100 or 200 years, Professor Duke mentioned.
Whereas different varieties of bushes can dwell for 1000’s of years, mangroves thrive in excessive situations, making them inclined to floods, storms and tidal or sea stage adjustments, affecting their lifespan.
“There is a tree referred to as a Bristlecone pine that lives over tens of 1000’s of years and even the Huon pine in Tasmania hangs in there, they’re survivors,” Professor Duke mentioned.
“These [mangrove] bushes are actual survivors too however there are limits, as found within the Gulf of Carpentaria not too long ago, the place 8,000 hectares of mangroves, the identical species as this previous tree, died in a one or two month interval in 2015 simply due to a brief drop in sea stage,” Professor Duke mentioned.
When the Magna Carta tree started life it was on the low tide mark however with the Mary River altering its course, the tree now solely simply sits within the intertidal zone that mangroves require to remain alive.
The small grove it belongs to has managed to keep away from the wrath of cyclones or fireplace.
Mary River’s pristine mangroves
Mangrove forests are important to Australia’s ecosystem and are protected by legislation for the function they play as a nursery for marine wildlife, a filter system for land run-off, buffer from erosion and as a carbon useful resource.
The Mary River area has been described as a pristine mangrove atmosphere and Mr Titmarsh desires to verify it stays that method.
“We have 10 forms of mangroves within the Mary and Susan River estuary, as you go north you’ve got acquired extra and as you go south you’ve got acquired much less,” Mr Titmarsh mentioned.
“Some have roots that come out of the bottom, some extrude salt by way of their leaves, you possibly can lick pristine salt off, they’re all so totally different.
“The Mary River mangroves are pristine, they don’t seem to be all stuffed up like [in] Gladstone and across the place and we’re getting extra of them, we have now extra mudbanks then we have now ever had, so we have now extra mangroves than we have now ever had.”
Whereas Mr Titmarsh is obsessed with all of the mangroves on his property, as he stands beside the tree he has named the Magna Carta, you possibly can inform this one is near his coronary heart.
“See that little tree sprouting over there? In 800 years he will probably be like this one,” Mr Titmarsh mentioned.
“This mangrove tree is particular, it is historical past.”