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Conserving biological diversity in Australia's temperate eucalypt forests


Norton, TW, Conserving biological diversity in Australia's temperate eucalypt forests, Forest Ecology and Management , 85, (1-3) pp. 21-33 . ISSN 0378-1127 (1996) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1016/S0378-1127(96)03747-4


Australia's old growth eucalypt forests are unique, exhibiting a long evolutionary history compared with temperate ecosystems on other continents. By global comparison, alpha, beta and theta diversity in eucalypt forests is also very high; these ecosystems generally support a high number of species per site and the change in species and genotypes between sites and regions appears high. This has major implications for forest management if biodiversity conservation is a serious management goal. I consider the legacies of forest uses such as clearing, fragmentation, modification and degradation, and present some priorities for reform in forest conservation and management. Many of the forestry activities in eucalypt forests in eastern Australia are not ecologically sustainable. These practices result in significant impacts on biodiversity and are detrimental since they can destroy and modify complex forest landscapes, ecosystems and the natural environmental heterogeneity of systems; destroy, prevent or hinder ecological processes that are the basis for species' persistence and evolution; destroy or significantly modify the habitat of species; and destroy individual organisms and significantly modify populations and assemblages of species. Many components of eucalypt forest biodiversity are threatened, including various biological and ecological processes, many vertebrate and invertebrate fauna, and ecosystem diversity. One fundamental concern is the impact of harvesting on populations of species and intraspecific genetic diversity. Many current forestry activities not only increase the likelihood of the extinction of forest species, they also modify the evolutionary potential of species. The challenges posed by old growth eucalypt forest management in Australia are unique and by virtue of historical events, lie with our generation. To our advantage is an appreciation of what reforms are required, the availability of adequate knowledge and technology, and an understanding of what is at stake. A move towards ecologically sustainable forest use in Australia's remaining eucalypt forests requires a combination of initiatives including an enhanced conservation reserve network, and markedly enhanced protective measures in unreserved forest ecosystems, irrespective of land tenure. Significant reductions in logging quotas and major changes to current codes of forest practice are required if stated biodiversity conservation goals are to be achieved. Institutional reforms are required to support these changes as is support for long term ecological research and monitoring.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Forestry sciences
Research Field:Forestry sciences not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Group:Other plant production and plant primary products
Objective Field:Other plant production and plant primary products not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Norton, TW (Professor Tony Norton)
ID Code:44902
Year Published:1996
Web of Science® Times Cited:22
Deposited By:Agricultural Science
Deposited On:2007-06-27
Last Modified:2011-10-04

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