Eucalypt ecosystems predisposed to chronic decline: estimated distribution in coastal New South Wales

Classify & Cross-ref
Fire Management
TitleEucalypt ecosystems predisposed to chronic decline: estimated distribution in coastal New South Wales
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsJurskis, V, Walmsley, T
AbstractMost eucalypt ecosystems depend on frequent low intensity fire to maintain natural nutrient cycles and the balance between established trees and their competitors and arbivores. Absence of frequent fire alters these processes and sometimes allows mass establishment of fire sensitive seedlings. Mature trees can be affected directly by the soil changes and indirectly by enhanced competition and arbivory. This can result in chronic decline of eucalypts and gross changes in the structure and composition of ecosystems. Some species and provenances appear to be genetically predisposed to enhanced arbivory whilst some sites are physically and chemically predisposed to deleterious changes in soil conditions. Thus information on species/site combinations can be used to identify ecosystems that are predisposed to chronic decline in the absence of fire. In New South Wales relatively unmodified eucalypt ecosystems mainly occur near the coast. We gathered observations of declining eucalypt ecosystems along the coast and used coarse GIS layers to estimate the extent and distribution of species and site combinations that are predisposed to decline. We estimated that 790, 000 hectares, about 18% of the total area, of forests and woodlands in our study area may be predisposed to decline if managed inappropriately. About half the area is private land and half is in conservation reserves and multiple use forests. This preliminary estimate may help to focus attention on areas where adaptive management is necessary to conserve or restore healthy, diverse ecosystems and areas where further investigations are required to identify forests that are predisposed to decline
Refereed DesignationNon-Refereed