Asa Wahlquist; 24/11/09
The river red gum, named for its love of rivers and its beautiful deep red timber, is Australia’s most widely grown eucalypt. A huge tree with smooth, pale, opaline bark, and spreading limbs bearing thousands of fine leaves, it reaches its most magnificent form along the Murray and its connected rivers. The hard, termite-resistant wood was embraced by early settlers. It is still used for wharves and railway sleepers, for buildings, fine furniture, fences and for firewood. But the future of the red gum timber industry is uncertain, with conservation and business interests competing. The Victorian government recently shut down most of that state’s red gum industry. In NSW, the Natural Resources Commission is assessing the forests. The NSW government will then work out a forest agreement that will have both “conservation outcomes” and “a sustainable future for the forests, the forestry industry and local communities”.