THE WAY CAMPHOR-LAUREL TREES 'WORK' TO TOXIFY, KILL and/or STERILISE NATIVE FAUNA, FLORA AND SOIL AND WATER HABITAT ... SLOWLY!
Cinnamomum camphora (L) Nees et Eberm or CAMPHOR-L ('CL') trees exist in up to 9 forms of variable chemistry (Hiraizumi 1950), due to the double-introduction by importation of 2 types/'chemotypes-perhaps discrete subspecies (Missouri Botanic Gardens Webpage) from Japan (1880), and islands somewhere near Taiwan or China (1828) via Sydney (ex U.K.) Royal Botanic Gardens - which then began distributing and cultivating them. (NSW Royal Bot. Gardens references & Library Records' confirmations). Camphor-L trees are not just allopathic to a range of plants underneath them, which appears to be only certain tree types/chemotypes (SCU research).
Dead bird collection and observations on and under 100+ 50-plus year old Camphors in Lismore Parks (February 2002) clearly indicates that:-
(1) The most-toxic chemotype ('in their chemistry') do kill, as a result of 'acute-toxicity' to native birds that consume their green or not-fully ripe berries in mid to late summer (especially in hot, dry years - as inc. predicted by 'Global Warming').
(2) Visibly obviously 'soil-bare'-underneath shady Camphor trees (indicating allopathy) are not the same tree types that appear to be the most toxic to native birds and other fauna, since no dead birds have been found under these (allopathic) trees - in Lismore only; no checks to date elsewhere.
(3) Native fauna (invertebrates) is uncommon or rare on or in all Camphor-L trees, including ants, to a significant distance beyond the drip-line, only one spider species, one leaf eating moth species and one pollinator (thrip?) being repeatedly observed! The two year old study in detail of Lismore Camphors is considered representative of most Northern Rivers NSW Camphor trees, albeit not in 'dense infestations', and:-
No birds ever nest or are known to roost in Camphor laurels especially the visibly different 'toxic' ones - which cannot even support the growth of native Mistletoe spp.
Bird species known to have historically (Firth 1979) once consumed Camphor berry no longer do these days! Those species are no longer evident at all, eg Blue-faced Honeyeater (Entomyzon cyanotus) now does not frequent Camphor, having seemingly 'learnt' not to visit this toxic species (> 1000 observations, only 2 sightings in Region/Lismore).
THE NOMINATION IS 'KEY THREATENING':
(A) COXEN'S FIG PARROT Demise. A 'presumed extinct'* (NSW) Extinct species of small bird the Coxen's Fig Parrot Psittaculiastris diopthalma ssp. Coxeni is officially (NP&WS) 'critically endangered' in this state, yet hasn't been officially seen since 1965 (J. Newman, & S. Cullen, 2002 personal communications) - (by) local Kyogle naturalists highly regarded by, and who occasionally advise the Kyogle Parks Service Rangers (NP&WS), Confirmed by NP&WS Ornithologist Martindale (2002). When interviewed in detail, Mr John Newman who was born and worked in 'the Scrub' agrees that the spread of Camphor laurel trees to, and then (escaping) out of 'all local schools' (all NSW Schools, NSW Education) from approximately 1900 to 1970-75 (when NSW Forestry stopped selling the species from their Nurseries), would certainly be "at least as likely" as 'Habitat-loss' (of Ficus spp) for the demise of the Coxen's Fig Parrot.
'CRITICALLY ENDANGERED' Species (in NSW), NPWS, Coffs Harbour.
However, from Mr Newman of Kyogle (see Appended Report) there is clear historical evidence that certain pesticide tree species such as White Cedar can and have been observed to kill significant colonies of small pigeons (eg Green Winged Pigeon) in the past.
Associated with the above knowledge is the common 'bush observation, where N> 1000, that dead or dying birds, especially those incapable of flying/paralysed or moving-slowly on the ground birds would be 'easy-prey to foxes, quoll and other predators such as raptors within 12 hours of eating/over-consuming unripe or wrong- types of highly pesticidal Camphor trees.
10) Given the lack of toxicological studies and proof of all the above and complete lack of university research into the demise of this region's fauna, 'The Precautionary Principle' should be being applied.
(B) RARE FROG SPECIES, 'ENDANGERED':
Fleay's Barred Frog, Mixophyes fleayii. This species has in the past been commonly seen at two locations within Nightcap National Park, in pools under Tuntable Falls, and under Protestor's Falls in a tributary of Terania Creek, leading up eastwards towards North Whian Whian (ex State Forest) locality.
A ready comparison has been made between these two locations, since Tuntable pool/s still maintain a sizeable (small?) population of this frog species, whereas Protestor's Falls has a low to negligible/not sustainable, and seasonally non-existent population of Fleay's B-Prog/s.
'Disturbance' by humans is blamed for the frog's 'relative disappearance' over the past 15 years, especially at Protestor's Falls, and contaminant chemicals in both/either insect repellents and sunscreens (used by swimming public) were blamed (additionally), but these contaminants were never tests, collected for analysis or the exact link to frog population demise issued in a/my report.
An equally plausible, and more scientifically rational explanation for the greater, visible loss of Fleay's frogs at Protestors' Falls, even after three years of banned swimming at that location (and reduced disturbance), is the continued escalating spreads of Camphor-Laurels down into the Upper catchment of Protestor's Falls. Three to falling independent (verbal) reports have so far been collected from individuals resident in Rosebank, Dorroughby and at Casino, providing consolidated evidence that Camphor Laurel trees have NOT ONLY spread down north and north- east from the thick infestations around Whian Whian (old cleared farmland) and its roads and trails, but that sizeable (> 10 cm dia) Camphor's already adorn the streamside edges of the Upper Protestor's Falls creek to within approximately 1 km of the Falls edge proper.
After significant rainfalls following the known Autumn discharge of Camphor toxins into subsoil/soil-water, it is apparent these days that at a time when no persons are bathing/swimming at Protestors Falls pools, the waters of the creek and pools are not as clear as in late spring-summer, with definite measurable 'cloudiness' or milkiness in the water, a sure characteristic of the known water soluble alkaloids of Camphor Laurel.
NB: In support of this Nomination, over 250 quality photographs, depicting dead bird specimens, dead bandicoot and possums in proximity to 'toxic-Camphors', as well as definitive pictures of 'dying creeks' that result in significantly malnourished fauna - leading to 'dying wetland areas' where there are no longer any waterbird species remaining to be observed.
Mr Newman came to this theoretical agreement bearing in mind:
1) The historical migratory habit/s of the C-Parrot, traveling north to Queensland (SEQ) every year, where (also) there is known to be light invasions of Camphor-L trees around disturbed Rainforest - 'scrub' country; and
2) The type of tree/s, and its Bark morphology; with long, near horizontal boughs, (mature trees) like Camphor-L, with rough-bark (even rougher than Ficus spp) which would be easy to run along in search of berries or ripe fruit - as is that species widely reported habit;
3) That the small parrots would have eaten small berries, as CSIRO proved by Survey/s that small birds and even smaller birds than Coxens Fig Parrot e.g. Silvereye do consume C-L fruit. [CSIRO Wildlife unpublished reports/data]
4) The knowledge now to hand that relatively large species of birds e.g. White-headed Pigeon (Columba leucomela) do become sick and die (often within 24 hours of appearing 'sick') after consuming only small volumes of green Camphor Laurel berry (since 08/01, Terania Valley Landcare members, pers. Comm. 12/2001);
5) Increasing awareness, since 1998 that certain toxins capable of killing frog tadpoles exist at relatively high concentrations in 'ripe' purple Camphor-L berries (Friend 1998), but that for green berry with lower moisture % content/s and very low pH, the levels of toxin/s in green berries and seeds is likely to be significantly higher (esp. in a hot-dry season); see for instance Report copy on Mass Native Bird deaths in Lismore, Jan-Feb 2002. (Attached Reports)
6) That many types of Camphor Laurel can and do mature (in many cases) before 10 years of age, such that birds would have had access to ripe/unripe berry by ca. 1910- 1915 in the more remote places/Schools that they (trees) were planted by the turn of the century (1904, documented proof at The Channon, T. Osborne, photos and communications, 2000), and that given the long-term cumulative nature of the 'sterility factor' in Camphors*, that by 1930 it could be reasonably be expected that the Coxen's Parrot was by and large an infertile breeding population until its demise in and prior to 1965 - last sighting at 'The Red Scrub' in NSW (near Kyogle);
7) Close scrutiny of Nightcap National Park and its boundaries along the easternmost edges and fire trails leading up from Terania Creek clearly proves that bird-spread Camphors have often invaded over once heavily logged and disturbed areas, but also in the bush on relatively clear knolls, in side gullies where roosting pigeons have expelled seed, and adjacent to disused fire trails.
8) The Australian NP&WS (NSW) Expert on the Coxen's Fig-Parrot, J. Martindale (Coffs Harbour) agrees that its semi-migratory pattern, known to be common decades ago, could well have been interrupted seriously by fast growing bushy fence lines 'full' of dense Camphor laurel escapees; especially surrounding and proximal to that bird species original known most common habitat N & NE of Kyogle in NSW's Border Ranges National Park and adjoining land holdings.
9) Over-consumption leading to Death of Birds ... a number of birds found dead recently (2001-2002), especially White Headed Pigeon have been shown to contain relatively great volumes of seemingly ripe (purple-black) Camphor berry, with some of these birds weighing in at less mass than the weight of all the camphor berry put together! It is not yet clear if Camphor berry flesh 'loses' its toxicity upon turning soft, or if the feeding birds known which berries are absolutely ripe, or not.
* Reference: See under 'Birds' in The Camphor Fact Files (enc).
SUPPLEMENTARY REPORTS by OLD-BUSHIES'/PERSONS WHO GREW-UP IN SHIRES PERIPHERAL TO LISMORE, BUT WHO REMAIN KNOWLEDGEABLE of REMNANT WILDLIFE, esp. KYOGLE SHIRE, NSW
1. GREEN-PIGEONS AND CATBIRDS Overconsuming White Cedar (Melia azaderach) i.e. EXCESSIVE CONSUMPTION and DEATH/Mass-Deaths John Newman, born 1920 near Long Creek, via KYOGLE, in 'the Scrub' reliably stated that (Emerald) Green-Winged Pigeon, Chalcophaps indica and Green Catbird, Ailuroedus crassitostris have been repeatedly seen falling dead, dying as they hit the ground, following 'sessions' of heavy feeding on (solely) White Cedar fruit/berries - sometimes for days, repeatedly; White Cedar is a rainforest tree, but which produces huge, bird-attractive crops when forest timber trees are removed and the White Cedars have abundant sunlight/and less competition.
Mr Newman attests that both the above species are, upon hitting the ground, split-open down their back leaving an excessively heavy load of yellow fat and berries exposed; they are seen NOT to be able to fly any further, dying on-impact within 10 ms of W- Cedar Trees!
White Cedar berries, esp. the seeds are a known source of limonoid pesticide constituents, AND known to occasionally kill pigs and poultry.
2. FIG PARROT, race coxeni (Psittaculirostris diopthalma)
John Newman was the last person (1965) to see these semi-migratory/ migratory birds alive in the NSW 'Red Scrub' (or anywhere in NSW), and upon consideration of his years of nature-watching and the known incursion and spread of Camphor Laurel trees to places well beyond Kyogle by 1920, and their often near horizontal branching habit, considers Camphor Laurels could have been responsible for that species demise - NOT JUST THE HISTORIC LOSS OF HABITAT.
Camphor Laurels were planted at some 'bush communities' centred on the logging industry ca. 1900, beyond Kyogle, small villages were created in a few locations, but they are now 'ghost towns', only the most successful-planted trees remain, inc. all Camphor Laurels.