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Scar Trees

Scar Trees

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Qld Govt Conservation Management Profile dealing with Scar Trees; trees that have had the bark removed by Aboriginal Peoples to make tools or artifacts, or by early settlers. This document explains how to recognise scar trees and explains some of the major threats to this cultural heritage.
Qld Govt Conservation Management Profile dealing with Scar Trees; trees that have had the bark removed by Aboriginal Peoples to make tools or artifacts, or by early settlers. This document explains how to recognise scar trees and explains some of the major threats to this cultural heritage.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Veteran Tree Group Australia on Apr 23, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/09/2014

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Scarred and carved trees
Description
Scarred trees are trees from which bark has been removed to make tools or artefacts suchas canoes, containers (for example, coolamons), shields, boomerangs, bark shelters,burial tubes or from traditional hunting and foraging. Common scarred tree species includeeucalypts such as poplar box ( 
Eucalyptus populnea
 ), gum topped grey box ( 
E. moluccana
 ),ironbark ( 
E. crebra/fibrosa
 ), forest red gum ( 
E. tereticornis
 ) and also budgeroo ( 
Lysicarpusaugustifolius
 ). The bark was removed – traditionally with stone axes – in such a way thatthe tree was not killed. Some trees have been barked a number of times and have multiplescars.There are four main features associated with traditional scars: the dry face; overgrowth;dieback and epicormic growth. Some scars are clearly made with steel axes and this becamecommon in the early days of European settlement when Indigenous people adopted themfor traditional use. It is not always possible to determine whether scarring is the result of natural events or the result of human action. When scars are made by humans they usuallydo not go to ground level, are generally symmetrical and regular in outline, and the endsare often squared off or peaked. Regrowth on the margins of the scar becomes roundedand deep. Some scars may be associated with the cutting of sugarbag (native honey) or possums from tree trunks (typically diamond shaped).Carved trees generally have larger areas of bark removed and carved lines are etcheddeep into the sapwood. Designs include geometric or linear patterns, and figures such asanimals, birds and mythological beings. They are now very rare and extremely significant.Carved trees can be associated with burials or with ceremonial areas such as bora rings.Non-Indigenous people stripped bark for shelters, for processing hides and other uses,and generally used a full-sized timber axe with a 100-150mm edge. Scars made whilestripping bark for shelters display distinctive triangular serrated top edge. Other scars, suchas ringbark collars and frilling, blazes and shields, were made by early explorers, farmers,pastoral and timber workers, miners and surveyors.Natural scarring can be mistaken for Indigenous use. Damage can occur from lightningstrikes, branch tears and abrasions, fire, insects, birds and arboreal species, livestock,ringbarking and other mechanical impacts.
Location
Scarred and carved trees can be observed in many places across Queensland. Carvedtrees were reported by Leichhardt near Rockhampton and by J.D. Lang at Breakfast Creek inBrisbane. They have been reported on Fraser Island and South Stradbroke Island and carvedtrees were once found near the bora ring at Toorbul Point. Carved trees are now mostly foundin the wet tropics of North Queensland.Many scarred and carved trees have been destroyed as a result of natural decay, bushfires,clearing and timber harvesting. They are now most commonly found along inland waterwaysand associated flats, among older stands of remnant timber. Many existing scarred andcarved trees date from the post-contact period and are generally between 100–200 yearsold.
Scarred trees have hadbark removed for use inthe manufacture of canoes,coolamons, boomerangs,shields, bark shelters and otherwooden artefacts.Scarred trees generally havesymmetrical scarring; the scarseldom reaches the ground andthe ends of the scar are oftensquared off or peaked.Common scarred tree speciesinclude eucalypts such aspoplar/gum top/grey box,ironbark, forest red gum,stringybark and also budgeroo.Carved trees may be associatedwith burials, ceremonial sites orboundary markers.Fire damage and age are themost significant threats toscarred and carved trees.
 A stone axe cut opening in a dead
E. populnea
possibly to access a possum, goanna or native bee hive
CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT PROFILE
 
Scarred and carved trees
2
 Significance indicators
Indigenous scarred and carved trees are potentially significant. Scarred trees indicatesustained occupation and use and are often part of larger complexes associated with opencamps, rock shelters, ceremonial sites, artefact scatters and resource areas. Traditionalowners should be consulted for their views on the significance and cultural sensitivities of scarred and carved trees located on their traditional country.
Threatening processes
The greatest natural threats to scarred and carved trees are fire and natural decay due toage.Human threats include timber harvesting, land clearing, grazing and burning.Vandalism and damage caused by attempts to “freshen up” the scar or carving arepotential problems.
Management actions
Where activities, operations or other actions may impact on or harm scarred and engravedtrees sites, the following protective management prescriptions should be considered:When not already located within an existing suitable protective buffer zone, scarred andengraved trees are to be protected by a threatening activity exclusion buffer zone with aradius of at least 20m around the site.A buffer zone with a radius of at least 50m around engraved trees will apply as these areconsidered potential ceremonial sites.Scarred and engraved trees must never be used for fencing (e.g. as posts or for materials). Fence lines may intrude within the 20m protection buffer but must notthreaten the viability of the tree.Temporary markers may be used to identify the buffer zone area but must be removedafter the threatening activity has been completed.Scarred and engraved trees must not be ringbarked, tordoned, poisoned, felled or otherwise interfered with even if a permit to clear the species has been issued.Construction of new tracks, roads, pipelines, drains and other infrastructure must notharm or disturb scarred and engraved trees.Identified scarred and engraved trees are not to be marked with unauthorised signage,paint or other permanent media.Identified scarred and engraved trees are to be protected from avoidable fire damagethat might result from management burning operations.Never scratch, open up, retouch or otherwise degrade scarred or engraved trees.Regrown bark should not be cut back as this may lead to disease in the tree if it is stillgrowing.On advice from Aboriginal custodians, fallen or dead scarred or carved trees, if in danger,might be removed to a safe sheltered spot, but only after photographs have been takenof the tree in its context.Where applicable, implement and comply with the provisions of a Cultural HeritageManagement Plan registered under the
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003
or 
TorresStrait Islander Cultural Heritage Act 2003
.Details of previously unrecorded sites are to be forwarded to the relevant traditionalowners with custodial responsibilities for the area and the Cultural Heritage CoordinationUnit, Department of Natural Resources and Water.For all Indigenous places of cultural significance, consultation should occur withtraditional owners who have custodial responsibility for the place to help determineappropriate management provisions, prior to the start of any operations near these sites.
 A 3m long “canoe” scar on an
E. populnea
 (poplar box) tree A shield like scar on the bole of an
E. moluccana
(grey box) tree A container (coolamon) scar on the bole of a
E. moluccana
(grey box) tree

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