About Helms Block Forest

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Helms Block Forest

Helms Forest, located in Jalbarragup in the Shire of Nannup, is a forest of significance. Recognition of this significance through the creative process will honour and respect all that it represents.

Background

Much of this forest is in near pristine condition with recognised old growth values as previous selective logging carried out in the 1930s and 40s left much of the forest ecosystem intact. Towering, majestic old jarrah and marri trees form the overstorey, interspersed with whispering sheoak glades, hakea, snottygobble, banksia and a wealth of diverse understorey plants. It is a riot of colour in spring with the many flora species, some of which have high conservation values.

An abundance of native fauna also inhabit this forest – endangered quokka, phascogales, chuditch, brush wallabies and bandicoots have all been observed. However it is perhaps best known as the jewel in the crown of cockatoo habitat as it is an oasis of high quality black cockatoo nesting and feeding habitat with all 3 species of threatened black cockatoos resident, the Baudins, Carnaby’s and Forest Red Tails. DPaW licensed cockatoo rehabilitators, David and Deirdre Patterson, live on their property Jamarri adjacent to the forest and have released rescued and rehabilitated birds into Helms.   It is a vital refuge for them as it contains the tree hollows in the remaining ancient jarrah and marri trees necessary for breeding. Because so much of neighbouring forests has been progressively logged and burned over many decades, these areas cannot provide the same quality of habitat.

Helms has evidence of both indigenous and European history if you care to find it. Noongar scar or shield trees have been found and there are still sections of old railway formations and sleepers. These served the early logging industry, allowing the fallen timber to be removed by rail to the nearby St John’s Brook Mill.

Helms forest was originally named after A.D. Helms, a Forests Department Research Officer in the 1920s, later a lecturer in silviculture at the Australian Forestry School in Canberra. He was a Norwegian who did his forestry training in Europe. The Forests Department Arboretum in Esperance is named the Helms Arboretum. An anecdote mentioned in The Institute of Foresters vol.36 relates that “his main claim to fame was his ability to smoke a cigarette to its end without any of the ash falling off”.

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