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Fauna conservation in Australian plantation forests – a review

Lindenmayer, D.B. and Hobbs, R.J. (2004) Fauna conservation in Australian plantation forests – a review. Biological Conservation, 119 (2). pp. 151-168.

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A review of the value for fauna of conifer and eucalypt plantations in Australia is presented. Five key reasons highlight a need for wildlife conservation as part of plantation management. These are: (1) The plantation estate in Australia is set to triple in the coming decades, and where new plantations are located and how they are managed will influence the biota that currently exist in such landscapes. This is particularly critical in many semi-cleared former grazing landscapes where the establishment of new plantations is focused. This is because: (1) (a) native vegetation communities in these areas are poorly represented in the existing reserve system, and, (b) uses such as wood and pulp production need to be balanced with other management values such as wildlife conservation. (2) The maintenance of some elements of the biota within plantations could have benefits for key ecosystem processes like pest control. (3) Although some species cannot be conserved in plantation-dominated landscapes, many species can be through the adoption of (sometimes minor) modifications to forest management. (4) The maintenance (or loss) of biota in plantations is relevant for moves toward ecological standards and the certification of plantations in many parts of the world. And, (5) simple plantation forestry which has a narrow and intensive management focus on producing a forest crop for a limited array of purposes, may not meet societal demands for a range of outputs from plantations in addition to wood and pulp. It also may not be congruent with the principles of ecological sustainability. Our review showed that almost all research undertaken in Australian plantations, both in conifers and eucalypts, highlighted the importance of landscape heterogeneity and stand structural complexity for fauna conservation. At the landscape level, patches of retained native vegetation, strips of riparian vegetation, dams, open and clearing areas can significantly increase the number of native species that occur within plantations. Some species that occur in these areas can also use adjacent planted areas, a result common to conifer and eucalypt plantations. The spatial juxtaposition of stands of varying ages throughout plantation landscapes also can contribute to the maintenance of some populations of native taxa. At the stand level, structural complexity is also important for fauna with many species responding positively to the presence of native understorey plants, the presence of windrowed logs, and logging slash left on the forest floor. The management of plantations to promote landscape heterogeneity and stand structural complexity will, in many cases, involve trade-offs that will influence wood and pulp production. The extent to which this occurs will be dependent on the objectives of plantation management and how far they extend toward the complex plantation forestry model to incorporate social and environmental values in addition to wood and pulp production.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2003 Elsevier Ltd.
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