High Elevation Mixed Species Forests


There are six broad forest types in Victoria, and each of them have distinct silvics which in turn mean that their silviculture is different. Mountain Ash, Alpine Ash and Red Gum generally occur in pure stands, and are significant in terms of area and timber and conservation value. Low Elevation Mixed Species (LEMS) is the most diverse type in terms of numbers of species and distribution. It combines both foothill and coastal mixed species types. High Elevation Mixed Species  occurs  generally above 700m elevation, meaning the climate and species mix is different to LEMS, although of course there is an overlapping area where one type grades into the other.

Silvics is the term used for the characteristics that define the life history, growth, behavior and ecology of a tree species. It is often linked with silviculture, which is the application of silvics to the management of trees in order to enhance the reproduction, survival or growth of a specific tree species." (Source)


What are HEMS forests?

Silviculture Manual No 2 (2009) explains that while mixed eucalypt forests are widespread across Victoria, there is nevertheless significant variation in the range of species involved, the soil types, elevations and climatic conditions under which these forests grow.

For silvicultural purposes, Victorian mixed eucalypt species forests have been divided into High Elevation Mixed Species (HEMS) and Low Elevation Mixed Species (LEMS). Generally the HEMS forest type occurs above 700 metres elevation across Victoria with higher rainfall, while the LEMS forest type is typically located on warmer, drier and lower rainfall areas in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range generally at elevations less than 700 metres above sea level.

The “HEMS forest” terminology and classification includes what many foresters and other natural resource managers would have known broadly as “wet mixed species sclerophyll forests” or “mountain mixed species forests” in higher rainfall areas.

The manual provides a list of the more common HEMS eucalyptus species for each of the East Gippsland, North-Eastern, Central Highlands and Western Victoria regions of Victoria, and Eucalyptus obliqua ( Messmate), E. cypellocarpa ( Mountain Grey Gum) and E. radiata (Narrow-leaved peppermint) are common to all.

What Does the Manual Include?

Irrespective of the tenure and management purposes and priorities for particular areas of Victoria’s public forests, this manual is an extremely valuable compilation of ecological and silvicultural knowledge and management information for the protection and sustainability of this forest type.

The manual starts with general features of HEMS forests and information on geographic distribution, taxonomy and genetic factors, history of forest use and management and silvicultural research. Information on the ecology of HEMS ecosystems (flora, fauna, soils and nutrition, climate, fire, pests and diseases) provides a background and lead in to more substantial forest silviculture knowledge and management information - including, seed production, seedling establishment and survival, crown and root systems, silvicultural systems and practices, and reforestation and remedial regeneration.
As well as the principal authors’ wide knowledge and expertise across forest silviculture and forest ecology, the manual also includes significant contributions from other forest silviculture practitioners and other important forest management disciplines – fire research, forest ecology and biodiversity and forest pests and diseases. This 112-page Manual also contains an extensive list of references, a glossary and an index.