Climate change could put eucalypts at risk of death from air bubbles

“Extreme droughts could lead to widespread death of eucalypts from embolisms, researchers say.

ArborCarbon scientists have co-authored publications that have investigated the link between bioclimate events like drought to the decline of eucalypt forests in Western Australi.

Key points

  • Some trees can shrink the width of their water transport vessels in response to lack of water
  • Eucalypts are not able to do this which puts them at risk of developing air bubbles in their vessels
  • This would make them vulnerable to extreme heatwaves and drought due to climate change”

Read the Article on ABC Science

What is Tomnod?

Tomnod (the Mongolian word for “Big Eye”) is a crowdsourcing platform run by commercial satellite company DigitalGlobe that combines the powers of crowdsourcing and timely satellite imagery. It enables volunteers to identify objects of interest in satellite images, typically for response and recovery efforts after disasters.

The crowdsourcing platform allows volunteers to comb through imagery captured by DigitalGlobe’s constellation of satellites and “tag” areas of interest that are suspicious or require further study. An algorithm is then used to tally up these “tags” and flag areas that consistently attract attention.


Examples of Previous Tomnod Campaigns

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370

Just hours after the disappearance of Flight MH370 and its 239 passengers while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, DigitalGlobe repositioned two of their five satellites over the Gulf of Thailand region – the last known location of the aircraft.

Tomnad then launched a campaign to allow volunteers to scan and tag satellite images of the search area. The virtual search party were given directions to tag any hints of airplane wreckage, life rafts, oil slicks or anything interesting or suspicious

Over 8 million joined Flight MH370 campaign on the Tomnod platform, tagging millions of possible clues spanning 1,007,750 square kilometres of high resolution satellite imagery (DigitalGlobe, 2014).


Sampson Flat Bushfire, Adelaide

Within 12 hours of The Sampson Flat bushfire which started on Friday 2nd January 2015 in the Adelaide Hills, two satellites were making regular passes over the area and providing detailed photographs of the fire ground.

Tomnod then launched a crowd sourcing campaign to enable volunteers to help identify burnt buildings, damaged roads etc. More than 3,500 users from around the world began pinpointing buildings destroyed by the bushfires days before damage assessors could access the site. Volunteers were able to match a pre-fire map with the latest satellite images and determine areas where buildings had been destroyed or badly damaged. Online maps were also created to plot the growing footprint of the bushfire and display ready reserves of people willing to help during the fires.

Overview of Worldview-2 RGB satellite imagery acquired on the 4th (Copyright DigitalGlobe)


Hawaii Forests

In partnership with Hawaii’s Nature Conservancy, Tomnod launched a crowdsourcing campaign to help preserve Hawaii’s remaining native forests which were becoming threatened by invasive plants that were aggressively spreading throughout. In fact, these invasive species had contributed to the destruction of more than 50 percent of Hawaii’s native forests, according to The Nature Conservancy.

The campaign targeted two invasive plants: the Australian tree fern and the African tulip tree.

Tomnod figure 2 & 3


The project allowed volunteers to pinpoint the location of each weed for The Nature Conservancy to focus its efforts on and curb the spread of these plants.

Tomnod’s crowdsourcing platform has been involved in the response and recovery efforts for numerous natural and man-made disasters, but this was the first campaign launched specifically for environmental conservations efforts.

How to use Tomnod

To become a part of this invisible army, just visit the Tomnod website. Click through the introductory text and press Start Tagging! on the Tomnod screen to start your search.

Mysterious disease threatening historic trees in Cape Town

“Scientists are baffled by a mysterious disease that is threatening some historic trees [planted in 1989] at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in Cape Town. Several trees in Camphor Avenue are showing symptoms of an unknown sickness.”

Camphora trees dying









Five of the 45 Camphor Trees  (Cinnamomum Camphora) had been affected. Samples have been sent to our friends and colleagues at the FABI to assist with diagnosis. ArborCarbon’s chief scientist has co-authored several publications describing new fungal pathogen’s associated with tree diseases from various parts of the world.

Watch video

Camphora trees sign

Today Tonight (Perth) – Trees and development


ArborCarbon’s  Dr Paul Barber, was asked to comment on last night’s Today Tonight;

“Trees keep us cooler and are good for our health, so why are we chopping so many down?”


The underestimated power of plants

Image: Linkoping University’s laboratory of organic electronics has already proven it is possible to build a functioning electronic circuit within a rose bush. (supplied/Eliot Gomez)

Excellent article and podcast by Antony Funnell on Radio National’s, Future Tense about the underestimated power of plants.

Funnell  “ventures to the frontiers of plant science to meet researchers who believe the power of botanical organisms has long been underestimated.”


Concern at canopy loss – SAS’s Seaward Village

ArborCarbon’s Managing Director and Chief Scientist, Dr Paul Barber was asked by the Western Suburbs Weekly, to comment and provide data on the canopy cover of the suburb of  Swanbourne, amid fears that the area is losing too much canopy cover.

“CALCULATIONS show that redeveloping the SAS’s Seaward Village in Swanbourne could mean the loss of 25,000sq m of cooling tree canopy, in addition to an estimated 12ha lost in the City of Nedlands recently.

“You’re certainly going to lose tree canopy if you bowl it all over – about that there’s no doubt,” Arbor Carbon director and Murdoch University associate professor Paul Barber said.”

Read the full article 

Perth’s leafy western suburbs are rapidly losing their tree canopy cover.

Nedlands losing it’s tree cover

ArborCarbon scientists undertook a study over 2 years based on aerial surveys using multi-spectral, high resolution imaging. The results were startling and concerning.

The majority of councils within the ‘leafy western suburbs’ have experienced a loss in canopy cover over the  two-year period.

The study showed that the hottest areas in the western suburbs had little vegetation and an excess of sand. Examples include Campbell Barracks, Mt Claremont, the area south of UWA, immediately west of Shenton bushland, the QEII medical centre and Sir Charles Gardner Hospital – and around Subiaco Square.

Some of the coolest areas are, of course, where there is a body of water like Lakes Claremont and Monger. Other cool areas include suburbs within Subiaco, the Wembley golf complex, and Perry Lakes Reserve.

I am passionate about the need to maintain and foster tree growth in urban areas. Replacement with young trees is not the solution as they could take 50 years to mature before the same shade and cooling benefits are realised.

We need to embrace trees and the benefits they provide, rather than seeing them as a nuisance or being scared that a tree will fail simply because it is a big tree.

The tree loss shown in this study is a major concern as we know that canopy cover is directly linked to the Urban Heat Island Effect. We are compounding the problem by not conserving our canopy and this impacts the health of people in our communities.

To read more please read the full story on WAtoday.




More trees in cities: Federal gov’t to set national goals

The federal government has announced it will establish goals for increasing the urban tree canopy cover in Australia’s cities, in an effort to reduce the heat island effect.Read this article on  ArchitectureAU


For more

Ancient Jarrah tree and bees murdered

I was interviewed by John J Zylstra regarding the ancient jarrah tree cut down in Perth’s southern suburbs last week.

Contractors cut down this awesome tree – their reasoning was because of bee hive in the tree hollows.  I’m afraid this practice is all too common in locations that are proposed for future development in WA.

I’ve now seen it many, many times and I’m fed up.

This has become a major issue, and w invite you to share this video and show your concern.

Senseless felling of old Jarrah

Very few Jarrahs of this size exist now in the Perth urban area…

Today I went to visit the site a few minutes from me where a Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) possibly 500 years old or more, was felled for no good reason. This tree was nearly 2m in diameter at its widest point….that is over 6m around the base! It was a giant. Very few jarrahs of this size exist now in the Perth urban area….and I would say even in the world. This was a living link with the time of only indigenous occupation of this country.

Local residents who discovered the contractors cutting this awesome tree to the ground

Local residents who discovered the contractors cutting this awesome tree to the ground.

I met with the person who discovered the contractors cutting this awesome tree to the ground. I must say…it all sounds very dodgy and I’m afraid this practice is all too common in locations that are proposed for future development in WA. I’ve now seen it many, many times and I’m fed up.

Yes, the tree had bees in the hollows, however, these could have been removed without too much difficulty. I measured the approximate height of the tree…around 22 metres at best. Distance to the nearest fence or footpath around 24 metres. Even if it failed at the base it would not have made direct impact with anybody. It resides in a bush-land corridor where very few people would walk..and to top it off, at the base it the heartwood was almost defect free.

Yes, the tree was in decline as you would expect for a tree of this age….it is possible that the health of the tree had been previously impacted from construction of nearby houses and the road…but it was battling on.

This tree was nearly 2m in diameter at its widest point

This tree was nearly 2m in diameter at its widest point.

I’ve seen the main roads statement, and the arborist ‘report’….no arborist in his right mind conducting a risk assessment of this tree based on internationally recognised methods would ever condemn it. I can say this as I’ve learnt and become qualified and licensed in these methods.

This is senseless and begs the question as to the real reason this tree was condemned. People must be made accountable for this…….we, as members of this community, need to get tough on this. Perth has changed for the worse over the past 12 years I have been here…the green spaces and trees are disappearing fast, the water is drying up rapidly, our houses are getting bigger, our blocks of land smaller, our urban area hotter…this is all leading to a decline in our quality of life and will result in increased hospitalisations due to heat-related illness and reduced mental well-being.

We need trees and trees now need us…

Dr Paul Barber, ArborCarbon